Thursday, December 19, 2013
Saturday night’s rivalry matchup against Strom Thurmond showed how good the North Augusta boys basketball can be.
The Jackets (5-1) defeated Strom Thurmond 67-36 and Cross Creek 65-57 to complete a perfect week. Al Young, North Augusta’s head coach, has focused on defense in the early season.
“I think our defense is the key. We had a lot of intensity defensively, and we’re getting where we need to get and preventing open looks,” he said. “That’s the key. If we can keep that going, it will get our offense going. When you get a bunch of excited kids that are pretty good athletes, I think good things can happen.”
Chandler Harrison, who led the Jackets in scoring against Strom Thurmond with 17 points, credits the team chemistry for the improved play.
“I think we played great (against Strom Thurmond),” Harrison said. “We played hard as a team on both offense and defense. Our chemistry is getting amazing. We just need to keep going hard at practice and continue to get better. Everything seems to be going good, but we can’t slack off.”
The focus on defense has not stopped the Jacket offense, who average just more than 60 points per game.
“I think we’re shooting the ball well,” Young said. “Strom Thurmond worked hard to take Christian (Davis) away early, but Chandler (Harrison) was able to knock down some 3-pointers. I think it’s important to play together and find the open guy. If we can find the open guy, and he can knock the basket down, it’s going to be difficult to defend us.”
Young has worked to develop his bench in non-region play, and hopes to continue to do so in the coming games.
“They’ve played hard, I can see where they’re learning things,” Young said. “We have to keep getting more experience. Our bench is not very deep, so any experience we can get for them is big for us.”
The Jackets have two games before Christmas, then will play in the Lake Marion Tournament. Harrison said he expects his team to bring home the trophy from the tournament.
“We have to come out with lots of intensity from the tip, play great defense and play together to get the win,” he said. “I told Coach Young already that we play on bringing the tournament trophy back to North Augusta.”
While a tournament trophy would be big for the Jackets, Young is just looking for improvement from his team.
“I’m always looking for my team to continue getting better,” he said. “I want them to maintain the intensity, stop making the small mistakes that can lose a ballgame.”
North Augusta is scheduled to play at Strom Thurmond on Tuesday and Greenbrier on Friday.
T.J. Lundeen is a reporter for The Star. Follow him on Twitter @lundeentj for more updates.