Mansfield Sports

Broncos face extra challenges entering district

The historic run by the Legacy football team had a bit of an unfortunate downside – one that was felt by the Broncos basketball team. With the football team playing through the end of November, a pair of key players were missing from the important preseason basketball slate that offers teams the chance to prepare for district play. As a result, a Legacy team that was ranked in the area to start the season sputtered out of the gate.

“We were pretty thin in terms of experience and we slipped up,” coach Marchie Murdock said. “We really didn’t have a full team, and people really came after us.”

After opening with a 44-41 win against Irving, the Broncos dropped three straight against Aledo, Everman and Martin.

“It’s the inexperience factor that was so difficult for us,” Mudock said. “We had some guys that had never been in a varsity situation and we threw them into the fire. They did a great job and really worked hard, but the experience of the other teams really hurt us.”

Just when it appeared that the Broncos would get a boost from the return of football players Chris Smith and Chad Pursley – both all-district basketball performers from Legacy’s squad that went 22-8 and 12-2 in District 15-4A last season – an ice storm hit the area and wiped out the Mansfield ISD Spring Creek Holiday Classic, which would have given the entire team a chance to play together for the first time this season.

“We were hoping to play some teams like North Crowley and Mansfield and Fossil Ridge – some 5A teams that were in our bracket that would help us get ready for this district,” Murdock said. “Then the ice storm hit and nixed that. We’ve only had one tune-up. We’ve got to get ready in a hurry. We’ve got Lancaster coming in here and they’re huge. They’re bigger than a pro team.”

Indeed, Legacy opens district play against Lancaster on Tuesday the 17th, and the Tigers feature a back line with players that are 6-9 and 6-11. The Broncos have had just one game together as a full team – a 57-42 victory against Carrollton R.L. Turner.

“We’re hoping to gel and come together as a team in a short amount of time,” Murdock added.

The addition of Smith and Pursley should provide a boost – along with the return of Darren Adams from an ankle injury. They will bring a significant increase in athleticism and experience. Smith doesn’t believe their prolonged absence will keep the Broncos from hitting full stride in a hurry.

“The chemistry will be easy,” Smith said. “All of us are family and come together. Most of us have been playing together since middle school so we’re familiar with each other and know how each other plays. It’s not going to be hard, we just need to talk to each other and just keep going.

“We’ve just got to go out and play Legacy basketball, which is good defense and play as a team,” he added.

Good defense is a staple of Murdock teams, and he hopes the 2013-2014 version will follow the example set by last year’s team, which allowed opponents just 38.5 points per game. Murdock said he never looked it up, but was told that was the best in the state.

“If you play good defense, you always have a chance to win,” he said. “Defensively, we really want to keep going and get to where we were last year. We lost some really good defensive seniors to graduation. We’re still training these guys and we feel like they’re working in that direction. If we can keep growing in that area – making it difficult for teams to score – the rest of our game will come as the season progresses.”

Despite its early struggles and entering district play with a 3-3 record, the Broncos maintain high expectations. In fact, Murdock feels the early adversity could have a silver lining down the road.

“It’s probably going to help us in the long run with those guys getting a little experience, even though it might have resulted in losses,” he said. “They’re going to have to play some important minutes for us when key players get hurt or into foul trouble. Now, we might be able to reach down in our bench and have some guys come play some quality minutes for us.”