During a recent non-district game against Southlake Carroll, junior guard Chris Rountree and the Arlington Martin boys basketball team showed how good they can be.
But the Warriors also showed they still have some work to do to maintain that high level throughout a game.
Martin held the high-scoring Dragons to half their season average. But the Warriors lost the home contest 41-36 after being outscored by four in the game’s final 70 seconds.
Rountree, a first-year varsity player, wants to make sure those close games go in Martin’s favor once the district season arrives.
“From a close loss like this, I can say we need to pull in and see what we could have done to stop them on our defensive side and how we could have made shots that were contested into easier shots,” Rountree said.
Rountree came off the bench to pour in six points in the first half. In the second half, he drilled a baseline 3-pointer to draw Martin to within a point with 1:10 to go.
“He’s a difference-maker who can make things happen coming off the bench,” senior swingman DaCorian Hymond said. “It’s very important, because a lot of teams don’t have that.”
Hymond is also a primary difference maker, as one of a young Martin squad’s most experienced leaders. At 6-foot-4, he’s a fierce defender on the perimeter who can mix it up inside on offense and on the glass despite being smaller than many opposing forwards.
He’s also a strong voice in the locker room and on the court who helps makes sure the more inexperienced players are in position to succeed.
“Having him back and the battles he’s gone through is huge for us,” Martin coach Clint Schnell said. “He’s a voice in the locker room, a voice encouraging the guys, coordinating and getting them in the right spots, defensively and offensively.”
Hymond’s big on making those seemingly small plays — snagging a critical rebound, making an extra pass to give a teammate an easier shot — that can change the outcome of a close game.
“It’s all the little things that end up being bigger things,” Hymond said.
Rountree is one of those young players who has improved since the start of the season by following Hymond’s lead.
“For a lot of players, this is their first year playing varsity,” Rountree said. “Once we’re able to gel that together and make it a team effort and not an ‘I’ effort, we’re going to be hard to beat.”
Martin’s already tough to beat in the view of Carroll coach Eric McDade.
“I’m glad it’s not a district game,” McDade said. “It’s fun to play them, and our district is tough. So that helps get us ready. Coach [Schnell] does a great job, and the guys are always prepared. It’s good to go up against a great program like this.”
With high-energy players like Rountree and Hymond leading the way, Martin should be even tougher to beat as the season goes on.
“We’re going to be very good once we get rolling,” Hymond said. “Everybody’s very coachable.”