In his two decades of coaching, Byron Nelson boys coach Scott Curran has learned the best way to get through a holiday tournament is to play these tournaments wisely.
The Bobcats (13-5, 2-0 in District 5-4A) played one game each day and went 2-1 in their own tournament. To play more than three games is not a good idea. Keller wound up winning it by defeating Carroll in the championship game.
“We’re always going to be an eight-team tournament,” Curran said. “We’re right in the middle of district play, and we don’t need more than three games. Once you start playing four or five games, guys start to develop bad habits and then it gets that AAU feel to it. District is the focus.”
While forward Emmanuel Nzekwesi and guard Thomas Williams made the all-tournament team, Curran said he was not really pleased with how the squad played overall. The best thing he hoped for is that the group got its legs as a week’s worth of practices started on Monday. District play resumes Friday against Denton Guyer.
“Really, we were just out of sync,” Curran said. “We were trying too hard and made some mistakes that we don’t make. We also had some breakdowns. But basketball is an up and down season. What we have to do is really rely on our defense and rebounding.”
Curran will use all four days of practice this week getting ready for Guyer, which possibly will not have star Jerrod Heard.
The star quarterback from the two-time state championship football team has committed and will sign with Texas on National Signing Day, Feb. 5. Nelson faced Heard in the two district meetings in 2013. However, Heard was not dressed for the Whataburger tournament over at Haltom City this past weekend.
“We’re in pretty good shape,” Curran said. “We’re going to use the week go watch some film and get our rotations right. We’re a big team, so we have to control the boards.”
Northwest gets respect
The Texans (14-3, 2-0 in District 4-5A) went into the Whataburger tournament looking to gain some respect.
Consider that done. A very impressive four-game stretch for the Texans in Haltom City culminated with 93-73 victory over Plano West in the fifth place game. Plano West features a really good 2015 forward in D.J. Hogg. Taylor Johnson had 30 and made the all-tournament team. But the Texans also picked up solid wins over state-ranked Richardson Berkner and Plano East.
“We came into this tournament to prove to ourselves what it’s going to take to win district games and win playoff games,” coach Mike Hatch said. “The games have been tough and physical. And if you want to win, you have to be the tougher team.”
Some players on this roster were probably automatically tough, but others had to acquire it. The Texans received huge performances from Johnson, Josh Tatum, Elijah Christman and David Ogunwolu.
“David’s just been so steady,” Hatch said. “He’s one of our best passers and defenders. We need his rebounds. He just does a great job of reading the floor and knowing where to pass it. Those kinds of players really complete your team.”
Ogunwolu is averaging eight points and seven rebounds per game.
The week ahead
Before the Texans play on Friday at Keller Timber Creek, they played Grand Prairie at home on Tuesday. That game was a filler after Northwest lost all of its games at the Mansfield tournament back in early December because of the ice storm.
“Our kids have been ready to play,” Hatch said. “In order to get respect, we have to step up in beat somebody. We met the challenge. But we have a lot more in front of us. They understand that.”