A month of practice is never enough for a coach to know how his team will perform on opening night. For Miamisburg’s Tim Fries and Tecumseh’s Roger Culbertson, both coaches liked some things they saw Friday night.
Of course, there is just as much, maybe more, to work on.
Fries found his team can win even when the flow of the game isn’t what the players prefer. Tecumseh played a matchup zone, slowed the pace and hung with the much bigger and more experienced Vikings into the third quarter. Finally, the Vikings started to pull away and finished with a 47-27 nonconference victory.
“It was ugly,” Fries said. “They played a soft zone, but our guys stuck with it and played really, really hard, so we were happy with the outcome.”
Jason Hubbard, the Vikings 6-foot-5 senior wing, scored 21 points on the strength of two 3-pointers and two rim-shaking dunks. Duncan Hall, the Vikings’ 6-5 junior center, added nine points and guarded the basket.
Culbertson introduced the zone last year. It held the Vikings to eight first-quarter points and help get the Arrows to halftime trailing only 21-14.
“I’m happy where we’re at,” Culbertson said. “Miamisburg’s a decent team. I’ve got no complaints with our kids. They gave good effort. We’ve just got to put the ball in the basket a little more.”
The Arrows’ only experienced varsity player was Clay Mastin, who averaged 14.4 points a game last year. The Vikings held him to five first-half points. Starting in the backcourt with him were sophomore Easton Lewis, who scored 10 points, and freshman Donovan Collins. Two others with some varsity experience will return the lineup soon.
“They’re a tough group of kids, and I think they’re going to compete every night,” Culbertson said. “I saw a little bit of that tonight, and I think it’ll translate into getting better throughout the year.”
Fries said he has been preaching toughness. His team will need it, he says, with upcoming games against Carroll, West Carrollton, Springfield and Northmont.
“Whether it’s how we react to missing a shot, to getting on the floor for a loose ball, to boxing out and rebounding, we know that we have to be the tougher team on the floor for us to have a chance,” Fries said. “Most of the time tonight we were the tougher team, and that’s what we want to see.”
Fries already knows this will be a fun season for a team trying to improve on its 11-13 season of a year ago that included some close losses to good teams.
“We couldn’t pull away, we couldn’t pull away, but because these guys are so tight and they lean on each other, it made it a lot of fun,” Fries said. “This is going to be one of the most fun groups I’ve had the opportunity to coach.”