The number 15 could be the rallying cry in this offseason for the Northwest Texans boys basketball team. Consider that in the Class 5A Region I 47-45 bi-district loss to Arlington Bowie, Northwest gave up 15 offensive rebounds to the Volunteers.
That was the difference in Bowie erasing a 10-point deficit in the second half (36-26) and rallying for the victory. Northwest finished the season at 23-8 and was eliminated in first round of the playoffs for the third consecutive year.
If there was any consolation, Bowie played in the Region I quarterfinals on Tuesday.
“It’s really frustrating,” head coach Mike Hatch said. “We played very sound defense for the initial shot. But we couldn’t finish the possession. We forced them to take the shots we wanted them to take. However, we were just out-toughed for the ball.”
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However, this Northwest team didn’t look like the team that went through the first 30 games of the season.
Junior wing Elijah Christman only played for about 10 seconds in the first quarter. It was clear that his knee injury was a problem, and he couldn’t play. That hurt because he was team’s leading scorer at 15.6 points per game.
As a result, senior forward Taylor Johnson was held to nine and point guard Josh Tatum scored 13 points to lead the way.
“Elijah tweaked the knee in warmups before the game,” Hatch said. “He felt terrible and I could tell he didn’t have confidence in it. He came off the bench and when he got a ball under the basket, he could not go up. There just wasn’t any reason to keep him out there.”
What makes the bi-district loss all the more frustrating was that Hatch considered this the best team he had formed in his six seasons at Northwest. But the Texans’ inability to keep the Volunteers out of the paint led to the exit.
But it’s time to move on.
“It’s definitely a disappointment because we had a really nice team,” Hatch said. “We had an opportunity. I think we relaxed a little bit with the 10-point lead. Bowie scored six points in the next 20-30 second that really changed the game. Give them some credit. They picked up their intensity.”
Still, there is plenty to draw from this run. The team had a strong showing in the Whataburger tournament over the Christmas holidays. There was also the emotional 73-68 overtime victory Keller Fossil Ridge that clinched third place. It came two days after the tragic death of girls basketball player ShyAnn Hooper.
This team loses Tatum at point guard, Johnson and post David Ogunwolu. Hatch admits this team will look different.
Montrae Tolliver will move over to the point. “He’s fearless,” Hatch said.
But the team will have Christman returning along with wing Elin Ponce and 6-5 guard Jesse Devries.
It may not be the free-flowing offensive team that the 2013-2014 squad was. Hatch said he thinks this group will be a little tougher. It will take an offseason to develop more of that. The Texans are moving into the new district with Byron Nelson and the Keller and Denton schools.