“We played really well today but there’s still always things we can improve,” Akpovwa said. “Defensively we got a lot of steals but we can always get better with our assignments and keeping guys in front of us, and we can always work on playing fast."
Shannon Heston knew he had a young team this year.
But Heston also knew that he had a team that had gobs of potential, and that had the leaders to help those young players make the step to becoming better players.
So Heston and the Seven Lakes coaching staff decided that they needed to test the team and get them prepared if the players were to be ready for the grind of district play, and put the team through a very tough non-district schedule.
The young Spartans (14-4, 3-0) made mistakes, learned from them and figured out how to play against some of the most talented teams they could come across, and so far it’s paid dividends in District 19-6A play, including on Monday night, where the Spartans beat Mayde Creek (8-4, 1-2) 65-44 to stay unbeaten in district play.
“It’s a learning process and they’re learning through experience,” said Seven Lakes head coach Shannon Heston. “They’re learning what we expect from a varsity player both on and off the court and you can see that growth happening. There are things they could get away with at lower levels that they cant get away with now and you can see the lightbulbs go off and see them learning in real time. It’s been good to see as we’ve gotten into district play.”
The Rams were without their best player and point guard Angel Sonnier in the game and the Spartans attacked on defense from the start because of it. Seven Lakes immediately went into a halfcourt trap, causing havoc and getting out in transition for easy points in the first quarter, building a 16-2 lead.
“We just wanted to make them uncomfortable,” said junior point guard A.J. Bates, “Jamal (Chretien II) is a great player and we knew that coming in, he’s developed a lot. But we had a gameplan where we wanted to put pressure on him and make him uncomfortable and thankfully it worked. We got turnovers and got out on the run getting open layups and getting points in transition.”
Mayde Creek battled to try and get back into things in the second quarter but the Spartans were able to hold steady with a 14 point lead heading into halftime.
And the Spartans just continued to build that lead in the second half on the way to the big win behind 20 points from Bates, 14 points from Nasir Price and 10 points from Josh Akpovwa, as the Spartans built their lead back up in the third quarter and held on to it in the fourth.
“We played really well today but there’s still always things we can improve,” Akpovwa said. “Defensively we got a lot of steals but we can always get better with our assignments and keeping guys in front of us and then we can always just work on being faster and playing at a constant fast pace.”
The Spartans will be up against another tough test when they take on Jordan on Friday, as it will be a battle of the last two unbeaten teams in District 19-6A play.
“It’s going to be down to coming up with a good gameplan and executing it” Heston said. “We’ve done a good job of that the first few district games and we have to keep doing it, to have that trust in us and belive in the mission that we’re on. If we do that I like our chances. But basketball is a funny sport because sometimes you do everything right but the shots don’t fall and sometimes you do things right and the other team still makes a bunch of shots, and Jordan can shoot the ball and put the ball in the hole.”
Seven Lakes 65, Mayde Creek 44
Points: (SL) A.J. Bates 20, Nasir Price 14, Josh Akpovwa 10, EJ Sparks 6, Adam Porras 6, Tillman Jaramillo 5, Brett Norton 3, Jaxon Brock 1; (MC) Jamal Chretien II 28, Caleb Davis, 6, Bryan Hightower 5, Noah Vongsengdeuane 4, Demarcus Slaughter 2;
Halftime: 31-14 Seven Lakes; 3-pointers: (SL) Price 2, Porras 2, Sparks 2; Jaramillo, Bates; (MC) Chretien 2;
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