Basketball season kicks off

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Basketball season kicks off

Connor Parrish, Reporter

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On December 4th the basketball program had opening night for both boys and girls varsity teams. The girls losing by 17, and the boys winning by three.

The varsity girls opened up the night at 6 pm playing the Rolla Bulldogs. In the first quarter Battle was down six but showing great defense, but the Bulldogs went on a run. At half time the girls were down by 11, but by the end of the third quarter they cut it to five, with four three point shots by sophomore Eliyah McCarthy. But in the fourth quarter the Bulldogs put the press back in to stop the comeback, with Battle losing the game 70-53.

Head Coach Michael Fernandez stated, “I thought they did good things. I think breaking the press got to us towards the end. With about a four or five point lead they kind of had a ten point lead for most of the game, then cut it down to about for four or five. I felt the momentum coming, we took a three that would cut the lead to two or three points, then we missed that three and from there on out, the press brake was not where it needed to be. The middle of the fourth quarter wore us out, the game kind of slipped away from there.”

Fernandez said this team is different from the others because, “The mindset of the team is positive, when things don’t go well, they don’t get down. Of course they want to do better, that they aren’t playing to their full potential, but they stay focused with each other and doing their best to fix the issue together.”

The team was an overall of 16-28 from the free throw line. Fernandez said, “That’s a big thing throughout the game we were going one for two or zero for two. In the back of my mind I knew that was going to hurt us, because that is too many free baskets we are giving up. An eight to nine point game is a lot different from a 14 to 15 point game; we have to be better at it and we have been better at it.”

McCarthy who led in scoring for the girls with 23 points, six made with three pointers. McCarthy stated, “We weren’t prepared for the press, we need to get better at communicating on the floor and in general.”

The varsity boys played right after the girls at 7:30 pm playing district rival Jefferson City Jays coming into town for the battle of the number one seed in the district. Battle held the lead from the get-go, but in fourth quarter Jefferson City came within two points with under a minute left. But Battle prevailed with a 67-64 victory.

Assistant Coach Tyler Victor said, “We started out slow to start, but we started playing well at the end. Cachao Gianquinto played really well.” This was a big win for the Spartans, “Big win for us because that’s gives use the lead in the district and that really matters for seeding when it comes February and March.”

Victor also explained why they are going to play more small-ball this year, with more emphasis on pressing this year.

Victor stated, “We are very versatile this year to where we are almost able to play position less, We play very well in transition, Maricus Grant is very good in transition, Z is able to make layups being his size over bigger guys, he had a big night.”

The Spartans gave up a few key offensive boards during the fourth quarter. This allowed the Jays to cut the lead to a one-possession ball game.

Victor said, “We struggled with rebounding tonight. But it is something we stress everyday and is also preached everyday, because rebounding is all about effort and desire for the ball.”

Junior Zhvaughn “Z” Ward lead the Spartans in scoring with 18 points. Ward stated how big a win it was against Jeff City, ”Big win for us because that was for the number one seed in the district and that matters come playoff time.”

Ward stressed how important the press is this year. He said, “Very important if the front two guys rattle the ball handler so we can get steals and get easy points.”

But Ward also said that coaches have been getting on the team about rebounding, “Boxing out is way more emphasized this year.”

Opening night for both Varsity teams was a big night for Battle basketball. The girls might have lost, but showed promise for the rest of the season. The boys got a big win against a district rival that will matter later in the season. The boys varsity plays against Rock Bridge on December 18 for their next home game; the girls varsity plays against Rock Bridge on December 19 for their next home game.

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