The Northwest boys basketball team is off to the best start in coach Mike Hatch’s six seasons. And really it’s because he has the most complete squad he has ever fielded.
The Texans (11-2, 2-0 in District 4-5A) went to the Christmas break following a blowout win over Haltom (90-44) and pulling out a nail-biter with Carroll.
The 47-44 win over the Dragons is always the type of game that coaches can expect in district play regardless of how good or poor an opponent is. It’s a district game and the level of intensity always changes.
“They’re always going to be like this and they’re going to come down to making some big plays down the stretch,” Hatch said. “This team can get way better. We were much better than what we were two weeks ago. Their attitudes and work ethic are terrific, and I think we haven’t played our best ball. I think we can do that in February. We go into every game thinking we can win it.”
The leadership he has from his three seniors in point guard Josh Tatum, Aledo move-in Taylor Johnson and post David Ogunwolu has been key. In a tie game against Carroll with 2:30 to play, Johnson had a key offensive rebound and put back that gave the Texans the lead for good.
Of course, Johnson is the son of new Northwest girls coach Rusty Johnson. So he’s been around the game all of his life. He’s averaging 16 points, shooting 50 percent from the field and 78 percent at the free throw line.
“He has an extremely high basketball IQ and really fits in with what we’re trying to do,” Hatch said. “He’s too unselfish. We want him to shoot at least six more times a game because he has such a knack for the ball.”
Hatch also made a key personnel move in the offseason. He switched junior Elijah Christman from the post to the wing because he likes the scorer’s mentality Christman has. That’s turned out well so far as Christman is averaging 14.8 points per game and shooting 84 percent on free throws.
There are 12 teams coming to this weekend’s Whataburger tournament in Haltom City and 11 of them are ranked – except for Northwest. But the Texans can shed that label if they have a strong showing. They open with No. 7 Richardson Berkner at 10:00 a.m. Thursday…the Texans are shooting 75 percent at the free throw line. “That’s a breath of fresh air,” Hatch said.
Byron Nelson update
The Bobcats (11-4, 2-0) continue to grow. They opened District 5-4A play last week with impressive double-digit victories over Wichita Falls Rider (62-43) and at Lake Dallas (60-47). Junior post Emmanuel Nzekwesi averaged 25 points between the two games.
Defensively, the Bobcats are working on lowering their points per game average. They are surrendering about 48 per game.
Head coach Scott Curran likes the way his senior forward Cale Popovich has played. Popovich is averaging seven points and eight rebounds per game.
“He’s accepted his leadership role on the floor,” Curran said. “We’re not going to ask him to score a lot but he does a lot of things that are not in the box score. He’s a glue guy for us.”
Nelson will host its tournament this coming Thursday-Saturday. The field will include the likes of Carroll and Fort Worth Southwest.