It was with great joy that I was able to bring my camera to watch the boys in their first game of the season. I am certain that Coach Tuttle saw lots of areas where there can be improvement, but at the same time it was great to see the raw talent on the team.
TIGER TEAM HUSTLE - I was impressed by our team’s hustle, and their attempts to run the offenses and defenses that Coach Tuttle has been teaching. It will take them a bit more time to figure it out, but we have boys who can defend, run hard, and make shots. That is a lethal triple combination! Once the offense starts to make more sense, then I am certain the 23-21 final winning score will be much higher.
So how did we score our points? Some of the shots were the result of great jump shots by Jared and Aaron. Others were from great positioning down low by Jared T. and Collin. And some were from great driving shots by Parker, Jared B., and Aaron. Landon also hit a great 3 point shot at a key moment. I loved watching Jared B. repeatedly drive in and kick out the ball. He is tenacious and took a lot of physical abuse as the other team repeatedly hacked him as he drove into the lane. Brett also added some great driving offense and I am certain that we will see lots of scoring from him throughout the season.
How was our defense? On the defensive end we really did a good job. Landon and Nathan were both well positioned for rebounds and getting their players to give up the ball. Tanner seemed to always be scrapping for the ball and getting the steal. I know that he did not mean to run right through the offensive shooter that was putting up a jump shot out near the three point line that went in, but Tanner failed to get the brakes on and he plowed right through him. This sent the shooter to the line to finish off the 3 point play.
Why was the score so close? Other than the fact that it was a scrappy game, it was a poor scoring game for both teams. At halftime is was just 8 to 8. Coming back for the second half the other team jumped out to a 6 point lead on three driving shots that resulted in fouls and then they made all 6 free throws. For the next 10 minutes it was looking like they would run away with the game as we missed a total of 9 free throws. You can’t miss 9 free throws and expect to win very often.
I was impressed with the fact that our team did not give up. Jared Tuttle came down on somebody’s foot and he rolled his ankle. Instead of letting that get us down, it freed up somebody else to come in and play. As Jerry Sloan always says, “You’ve got to be ready when I call your number!” Jared had to watch in pain from the sidelines, but we worked our way back into the game. One of the key second half changes was the desire of our team to break on their shot and then getting the rebounded ball down the court quickly. This doesn’t allow the other team the opportunity to get set up to defend. Our scrappy defense caused several late in the game turnovers and before you knew it, Aaron was on the foul line with us being down by 1 point with less than a minute to go... The first free throw was off just a bit to the right, but the second one went straight through the center of the rim touching nothing but the bottom of the net.
With the score tied the other team in-bounded the ball and Aaron stole it and drove to the hoop missing the lay-up from the left side. With the score tied the other team took the ball down the court and our defense stifled them and Parker came out of there with the ball and drove to our hoop and we were up by 2 points. They took the ball again and had no success, and Coach Tuttle had told the players in the time-out, get the ball and pass it around. Don’t shoot, but instead, just keep it away from the other team. With about 13 seconds to go we brought the ball into play and the passes commenced. With just a few seconds to go I watched the ball come to my son Aaron down on the right wing and he caught it, and started to dribble away from the 3 point line towards the basket, leaving his defender behind him, and nobody between him and the basket. Not wanting to disobey the coaches “No Shooting” order, and I could see that he did not know just how much time was left, the buzzer sounded and our team jumped for joy.
If you weren’t there and you think I might be exaggerating, take a look at the following photo that was shot with about 2 seconds still on the clock. The little girl is biting her finger, Tanner is looking at the scoreboard, and the rest of the team (Jared T., Nathan, and Brett) and Coach Tuttle are as tense as can be, knowing that we are just about to win this game.
OVERLY AGRESSIVE DEFENSE WARNING - I was told before the game that the other team was from Heber and that they were known for being great defenders. Looking back through my pictures I was disappointed by their gamesmanship. There were several hard fouls on our players that were really out of line. Some were called and most were not. We want our players to play hard, but we also want good sportsmanship to prevail. And while their coaches may pride themselves on the win-at-all-cost defense, they also need to take responsibility for the hard fouls and prevent them in the future. Failure to do so will cause both hard feelings and injuries to the teams they play. The pictures don’t lie.
I am certain that Jared B. is still bruised from his drives to the basket that were stopped abruptly by defenders that knocked him to the ground. I know that my son Aaron is still sore and stiff from the knee to his head (see the sequential below). Sometimes going to the foul line is not worth the inflicted injury. The referees made many of the calls, but I hold the coaches responsible for how they define aggressive defense. Coaches can easily clean this part of the game up so injuries from overly hard fouls can be avoided. We really want our kids to remain healthy and play the game for years to come. There is a big difference between accidental fouls and what we saw on the court today. In my opinion, the other team knew what they were doing.
IN SUMMARY - The Bantam League ought to be a great learning experience. It was great to see great young players in the games before and after our game, as well as in our game. The level of competition and desire is great amongst these young men and it will be great watching our team develop and compete.