Northeast Tarrant

Hot start encouraging for Panthers team coming off tough season

Every coach uses the traditional, yet accurate, assessment that his team is a “work in progress.”

But when a team is coming off a difficult season like Colleyville Heritage did in 2013-2014 (11-14), then the 4-2 start through the first two weeks is pretty encouraging.

So far, the Panthers are getting quality play out of their front court of 6-5 Markey Young, 6-8 Alex Weaver, 6-4 Brady Miller and 6-5 Maxx Crosby. Like head coach Steven Hamrick hoped, the offense is playing through those four.

But the ball handling and decision making from junior point guard Kevin Ogega has gone better than expected. Hamrick never doubted that Ogega would be able to run this offense. But the progression has been faster than anticipated.

“His discipline has been really good and so has his leadership,” Hamrick said. “He understands how it has to be executed. He’s going to be in a position where things will move quickly. He’s learning how to counter things when the opponent comes at him.”

There’s also been some quality play from 6-2 senior J.D. Stumpf. Stumpf is one of the first two off the bench providing scoring, control of the offense and rebounding on both ends of the floor.

“I really don’t get into calling guys starters as much as I do finishers because you need them at the end of the game to help you win,” Hamrick said. “The production we’re getting from J.D. is really important. He’s helped us stay balanced by taking on that role. You need to have those guys during any part of the season.”

As the season matures, Hamrick wants this offense to continue to fine tune itself. As he calls it, “grind it out more.” That comes down to setting screens and fighting through lanes that are clogged. The cleaner it looks, the more efficient it becomes.

Colleyville Heritage continued its season on Tuesday against Keller Fossil Ridge and travels to the Weatherford tournament Thursday-Saturday. The Panthers are in a pool with Argyle, Keller Timber Creek and Aledo.

Grapevine update

At 3-4, Grapevine coach Kevin Starnes isn’t noticing and serious signs of concern. Rather, he used the tournament Nov. 21-23 at New Caney as a great learning tool for his team.

“We got five games in in three days and faced some different styles of play,” Starnes said. “The good thing is that we could watch film and see where we were strong and where we struggled so we can get better.

“We still aren’t running on all facets of what we want to do. We go in and out. We need some scoring productivity and just need to be consistent.”

That goes with his senior Daniel Eibel. Eibel got off to a quick start at the New Caney tournament where he scored in double figures in three games. He was also named to the all-tournament team. But in the recent 57-48 loss to Carroll, he scored five points in the first quarter and didn’t score for the rest of the night. Hamrick said he needs Eibel to be a consistent scorer every night.

“But these are the kind of things that will help prepare us for games,” Starnes said. “It’s a process right now. Everybody wants to win. When you don’t have experience, you have to find a way to get it.”

Notable

Grapevine junior forward Cooper Bowers is battling a shoulder issue and is likely to miss at least the next two weeks … Grapevine played Mansfield Timberview on Tuesday and travels to the San Angelo tournament Thursday-Saturday.

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