Smithville High School15201714
Savannah High School9151520

“Weeeeeeee are the champions… friends!” There was nothing like waking up Saturday morning, listening to Queen on the bus on the way to our third round game vs. tournament host Savannah. We all had smiles on our faces after watching our guys on the football team, less than 24 hours before, win a state championship. What a moment. For this school, for our guys, for the town; memories that will last a lifetime.

From a basketball standpoint though, the time spent traveling in the car, the energy spent standing and screaming for 3 hours, the celebrations when the team returned home; with a 10 AM game looming, I was rightfully nervous. Already short on players, would we have the legs to get past the tournament host in their own gym? We would soon find out. Then 5 walked into the gym and my fears were quickly dashed.

The texts started flooding in the night before it quickly became a reality, #5 was going to return. Tomorrow. No time off needed, time to play. #5 being senior, Marcus Garza, coming off of a very strong senior soccer/football season, one of the respected vocal leaders in our locker room, Marcus showed up, ready to play and not waste another day of his senior year and boy are we glad he did. We needed him. We needed his fresh legs. He came off the bench for us, knocking off the rust quickly but it was his defense and toughness that came back the quickest. He was a microcosm of what we expect to come. A bunch of tough, hungry, proven champions that are here to cause problems for the rest of the teams on our schedule. Watching him get a steal, throw a pass to Andrew Miller for a 3 and then come back down the court and make his own shortly after, I was reminded about how deep and strong this team could be if we can remain healthy all year.

We got off to a hot start in the 1st quarter, really the first time this year where I thought we were the aggressors on the court and that started with Ryker Edwards, who deservedly will get the headlines from this game. He was on a mission from the tip and whenever he gets it going, he is volcanic in his explosiveness. After going ballistic during the 2nd quarter, he went into halftime with 23 points and we led by 11. During halftime though, the discussion turned towards keeping our composure. It got a little too chippy, a little too fiery from us in the first half; too much caring about the calls or non-calls from the officials. It’s an area for improvement for us and we told the kids that if we can continue to play aggressively but keep our composure and improve our body language and reactions when negative plays occur, we would be just fine in the second half and we did just that.

Our guys just played the second half, they stopped worrying about everything else and just played. That’s when this team can get really dangerous. Ryker continued to pour the buckets in and it was about midway thru the 3rd quarter that the thought ran through my mind, “He’s probably not that far away.” Referring in my mind, of course, to the single game scoring record which has stood since 1988 by girls coach Trevor Mosby. We’re not shy about talking about records with our team. We never have been. To go down in the record books is something that every high school player wants to have a chance to do. Last year, when Brad Schram hit the 3 vs. St. Michaels to break the single game 3 point record, he knew it. When we broke the team record for 3 pointers in a single game last year vs. Excelsior, we knew it. We had actually written it on the board before the game as a goal for that specific game, something we had seen on film about how they defended the line and we thought it was possible and we were quietly counting on the sideline. It’s a fun thing for us. He did it in a dramatic fashion of course. Missing the first free throw as he sat tied with Mosby, with 1 free throw remaining and his sub waiting for him at the table, I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw the smile that came across his face when he buried it for his 39th free throw. He knew it. And we needed every last one of those 39 to stay ahead of a tough Savannah team who kept playing hard and applying the pressure, winning 66-59.

Records are meant to be broken but I hope that one sticks around for another 33 years like the last.

Not to be outdone, Andrew Miller had his best career Varsity game, also scoring a career high 16 points and grabbed a team leading 7 boards. He was great all tournament. Averaging 13 and 5, shooting 38% from 3 and playing hard defensively, he’s going to be such a major factor in our success this year. Can’t wait to watch him progress as the season goes on.

For this group to finish 2-1 with the lack of depth and experience was a true testament to them and how hard they worked during the first month of the season. We never once got to practice with 10 guys, coaches often stepped into play so we could get up and down 5 vs. 5 and yet they found a way collectively to get the job done and hold the fort down. This first month is going to pay off for us down the road, I really believe that. It already has.

As the football guys trickle in over the next week, some will need more time to rest and recover than others, this team will continue to get more and more dangerous but don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, it all started with the positive vibes and experience we got at the Savannah tournament! Great job, fellas!