Thursday, February 13, 2014
An overtime loss to Aiken is driving the North Augusta boys basketball team.
The Jackets (15-4, 7-1 Region 5-AAAA) suffered their only region loss in a 45-41 contest at Aiken. On Tuesday, Aiken visits North Augusta.
“I hope we will play harder and a lot smarter,” Al Young, North Augusta’s head coach, said. “I think Aiken did a good job of containing us, and we got off to a real, real slow start. We had some turnovers, and I think if we correct that, box out and keep them from getting second shots, we’ll be in good shape. We have to match their energy and intensity; Aiken always plays hard. We’ve got to match that intensity and desire to win.”
Young’s team averages just over 55 points per region game this season.
“That was one of those unfortunate things, we didn’t shoot the ball well and we didn’t score well,” Young said of his team’s play against Aiken. “Aiken didn’t turn that ball over, which took away our transitional game. We just have to play our game, create some turnovers and play hard defense. A lot of our defense is desire and intensity, and we have to take good shots. Certainly, we have to make shots.”
The Jackets have had issues crashing the boards this season, which has led to extra possessions for opponents.
“I always say boxing out and rebounding because they have been our sore thumb,” Young said. “We jump well, but we don’t always box out and rebound well. I think sometimes people get second shots on us, which hurts. Of course, we’ve got to do a better job of taking care of the basketball and play with intensity for the entire game.”
The style of play the Jackets prefer, an up-tempo offense and suffocating defense, has led to teams slowing down the pace of the game. Young’s team feeds its offense with turnovers on defense and easy baskets in transition.
“I think one of the things (teams are) working on is protecting the ball,” he said. “I think if they protect the ball and keep from turning it over, that’s a big plus for them. The other thing, sometimes they’ll show a zone press, not to trap us, but to slow us down. Those kinds of things put us into a half court offense to keep us out of transition.”
To combat the slow pace of a halfcourt game, North Augusta has to find lanes to the basket to drive and kick to open shooters.
“We have to attack the basket and make them foul us,” Malik Dunbar, a forward for the Jackets, said. “We need to get to the free throw line. All of us need to step up in this one, Christian (Davis), Jock (Smith), Chandler (Harrison) and me. We all can knock down shots. That’s what we have to do to win. Most teams play a 2-3 (zone defense) against us. It’s been a wide 2-3, like what Syracuse plays. (Against that defense) we have to get rebounds, hands down, that’s going to help us. Everybody has to attack the glass and box out. We don’t really do it like we’re supposed to, but we’ve got to start.”
One key advantage for Aiken was crowd support. North Augusta is looking for a large, loud crowd to help bring a victory over the region rival.
“I was just talking with a student who assured me we would have a big crowd,” Young said. “I hope we’ll have a good crowd for this game.”
North Augusta’s matchup against Aiken that was scheduled for Tuesday has been cancelled. A make-up date was not available at press time. The Jackets will travel to Dutch Fork on Thursday.
T.J. Lundeen is a reporter for the North Augusta Star. Follow him on Twitter @lundeentj for more updates.