PLAYING WITH A PASSION: Straughn looks to keep improving in second half

Published 12:05 am Thursday, January 10, 2019

The No. 6-ranked Straughn Tigers (13-3) have started the year strong and look to continue rolling as area play begins to heat up.

“I felt like we have started off really well,” Straughn head coach Bradley Stephens said. “This year with a senior laden team, we really tried to make a more difficult schedule to start the year.”

With the tough schedule, Stephens said the team has thrived.

“This is the third year this group has been with me,” Stephens said. “They have really responded and played hard. We’ve been working a lot at getting better at our execution. Last night (Tuesday), they played hard and found a way to win. It’s kind of been like that in a few games this year. They just keep fighting and find a way to win. Before Christmas we had only lost two games, and now we have three. When you are this far along in the season and have single-digit losses, then you are going pretty good.”

With a team loaded with seniors, Stephens said this is the team he has been waiting for since he got to Straughn.

“This group of seniors are a very special group,” Stephens said. “I’ve been looking forward to this group becoming seniors for a long time. They just love the game of basketball. They watch a lot of basketball and they study the game. They work hard and provide great leadership. They know to do things without me telling them. That means you have something special. With leaders like we have, it makes you club a lot better.”

Even with a strong start and solid play, Stephens said there are still areas that need to improve.

“We have to get quicker at making adjustments,” Stephens said. “When a team does something we haven’t seen, we have to be able to adjust on the fly and not after two or three trips down the floor. We have to change quickly to put us in an advantage. We have to recognize the change and execute our adjustments more quickly. We can execute better.”

On Tuesday, Straughn beat Opp to open area play.

“It’s always huge to start area play 1-0,” Stephens said. “It sets the tone and kind of puts you in the driver’s seat. We want to continue that Friday when we travel to take on Slocomb.”