Justin Northwest’s playoff hopes were pretty much at less than slim when the week began. The Texans (11-16, 4-7 in District 5-6A) needed to win out against Keller, Keller Fossil Ridge and Denton Guyer in order to give themselves a chance.
However, they were in sixth place as Denton Ryan had overtaken them and moved into fifth. Losses to Keller Timber Creek and then on Friday in overtime to the Raiders put everything in a sobering position. Northwest Byron Nelson was in fourth place at 7-4.
Any combination of a Nelson win or Northwest loss would eliminate the Texans from playoff contention. But it was up to coach Mike Hatch to keep this team playing at a high level at the end.
“We’ve just challenged the guys to finish what they started,” Hatch said. “I know it’s a broken record. But we just have not been able to make the big play at the end of the game. Somebody has just had to make a play.”
It’s also been one of those years where the odd play has happened at the wrong time. Denton Ryan had only five offensive rebounds in the 58-56 victory over the Texans. However, two of them turned the game. One of them led to the game-tying three-pointer at the end of regulation and send the game into overtime. The second set up a go-ahead basket that eventually led to the victory.
“I’m surprised those types of those things have happened that many times against us,” Hatch said. “We really believe we are playing very well. It’s just extraordinary that it’s happened. You can overcome them if you make a big play at the end of the game. We are down to three games.”
A major slump
Senior Elijah Christman’s leadership has been exemplary, Hatch said. What hasn’t been is his shooting. A slump that started last week continued. He made only five baskets between the game Timber Creek and Ryan games.
“He’s our best player, and we want him to be more assertive at the end of the game,” Hatch said. “We really need him. He’s got to step up. I don’t think it’s him doubting shot selection. We just need him to stay aggressive.”
The Bobcats are just about into the postseason. But they’re not quite there yet. Because of Denton Ryan’s play, Byron Nelson (17-9, 7-4 in 5-6A) is up by two games with three games to play.
While the Bobcats were heavily favored against Keller Fossil Ridge on Tuesday, they had a difficult game on Friday against Keller Timber Creek, which had already clinched a tie for a playoff spot.
But head coach Scott Curran has to look ahead. He’s been bringing along junior Bryce Drake as the new point guard for 2015-2016. His playing time at the position has increased when starter Kadeem Ellington is either out of the lineup or playing off the ball.
“Bryce is going to be solid for us next year,” Curran said. “He’s doing of good job of distributing the ball and getting people involved. There’s a calm demeanor.”
Remembering Dean Smith
When legendary North Carolina coach Dean Smith passed away on Sunday, there’s no doubt that there was a part of him in every coach who is working in the game today. Curran and Hatch offered their thoughts:
Curran: “I think every coach is running some type of offense or defense that came from him. He sort of revolutionized the game. He taught the game the right way.”
Hatch: “A great innovator. The game changed by his way of thinking. Everything all of us has done is because he had a hand in it.”