adidas stockholm it’s Round 2 on Saturday night
Heritage (9 5) has enjoyed recent success in the series, but the west side boys know they can’t get too comfortable. Glass (10 3) has the luxury of playing in what should be a rowdy McCue and will be looking to even the score in the final of two regular season matchups between the two Lynchburg squads.
“There are probably going to be more people there than there were at our place last week,” HHS coach Les Camm said as his team finished Friday’s practice. “We know that going in. We know the crowd is gonna be heavily against us. We’ll have some supporters there, but their student section does a good job of making you feel uncomfortable. And we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
On the other side of the city, the Hilltoppers have been busy practicing and watching film of their last two outings, which ended in road losses, first toNorthside and then to the Pioneers.
“This group, they’re competitive, so I don’t think they’re real happy with what the tape showed the last two games,” Glass coach Roy Roberson said. “I think a lot of the things were uncharacteristic of who we’ve become.”
One of his starting guards, junior Raykwonn Spaulding, was asked about being back home at McCue. His response was short and to the point.
“Gym’s gonna be packed,” he said, “and loud.”
Spectators are encouraged to show up early tonight.
Roberson has taken a well known quote and applied it to his group. The success, he’s been telling his players, is in the details.
That means not only capitalizing off Heritage’s mistakes, but taking time to implement the things they’ve been taught, down to the smallest kernel.
“I think, sometimes, we’ve gotten away from doing the little things,” Roberson said. “It’s always the little things, like closing out with your hands up, making sure you finish every possession with contact and an effective block out. It’s the little things and sometimes we’ve tried to take the shortcuts.
“And I tell them there aren’t any shortcuts on the road to success. You’ve got to do it right every single time.”
After the first eight minutes last week, Heritage had just six points. The Pioneers obviously want to get off to a quicker start this time. But that’s not the biggest issue Camm has addressed with his players.
“We’ve just talked about if we get to the free throw line,
shooting a better percentage,” the coach said. “We’ve talked about taking care of the basketball and competing for 32 minutes.”
The Hilltoppers want to get out to the kind of start they did at HHS (they led by 12 points in the first quarter), and then sustain it.
“Keep it very intense, fast paced,” junior guard/forward Zaykeese Brown said.
Like other teams in the area, both squads had multiple games postponed because of inclement weather this week. So neither team has seen action, but they have been able to practice a few days.
“I think it could work both ways,” Heritage forward Patrick Mears said of the layoff. “It could definitely hurt us, but I feel like getting in the gym [Friday] was beneficial.”
After the rematch, both teams will start to pack in Seminole District games, as teams play three or four games a week to get their regular season district contests completed before the Feb. 3 deadline.
No one had an answer for him last week. Rosser hit a big 3 pointer in the fourth quarter to expand his team’s lead to five and then was clutch at the free throw line after Glass took a brief lead with 4.2 seconds remaining. He hit both for the 51 50 win.
“Keep the ball out of his hands,” Spaulding said. “Keep him out of the middle of the floor. I think that’s what needs to happen the most.”
A victory might depend on that. But Roberson has stressed the importance of an inward focus.
“Any time a guy scores 29 on you, you’ve got to talk about that, but the emphasis is more on us playing the way we should be,” the coach said.
Should Rosser find himself double teamed or under especially tight coverage tonight, there are other avenues to pursue.
“Them keying in on me means somebody else is gonna be open on the offensive end,” he said. “I have to pay attention and not force anything offensively.”
Glass has the full and half court traps down better than any other area team. The pressure is tough to prepare for and tougher still to face. But Heritage limited its turnovers in the second half last week. That might be harder tonight in a deafening McCue.
“Any turnovers that we have, it’s gonna be fast breaks and wide open shots for them,” Camm said. “So we know the importance of taking care of the basketball.”
At Glass, Spaulding talked about shooting better tonight. He admittedly didn’t have a strong game the first time around and wants to remedy that tonight. Spaulding is averaging 12 points per game, with fellow guard Antony Williams leading the way at 14.5 ppg.
But for Glass, Spaulding and Brown agreed, the focus is on defense.
“That’s all I’m worried about honestly,” Brown added. “Scoring is gonna come. But I feel like if we can stop them early,
we’re gonna bring home the win.”