New Wylie East head coach Kortney Smith got to see his team on the field for the first time this weekend at the TABC Showcase, and the early signs were positive.
Wylie East won all three games over the weekend, opening the tournament Saturday, June 24, with a 57-50 victory over Aldine. They followed up that win with two wins on Sunday, beating Weatherford 41-39 and Willis 50-39 in their final game. Throughout the weekend, one thing became the focal point for the Raiders – they wanted to establish a defensive identity early on.
“The results shook out how it was supposed to for us,” Smith said. “We haven’t really put anything in on offense yet, but we wanted to play really good defense together and cause problems for the other team.”
Wylie East’s defense certainly stole the show, supplying a full-court pressure defense that minimized their lack of size by forcing live-ball turnovers and points on the other end. Coach Smith said the energy on that end and securing rebounds was key to the team’s early summer success.
“We got a few guys with some motors,” Smith said. “That helps us a lot, especially when we’re small. When a 6-foot-2 guy can play a few inches taller because of effort, it goes a long way. We just have to stay locked in and continue to work hard.”
Still, the Raiders did have some struggles on the offensive end to finish possessions that kept their opponents in contests late but still managed to show poise down the stretch and come out with victories. Returning the starting backcourt of Parker and AJ Overstreet went a long way in closing out games, as AJ helped seal the win over Willis with key free throws down the stretch.
As the summer months continue, the Raiders want to continue to develop their defensive chemistry before moving to the offensive end. Once they add more sets and plays into their action, the points will start increasing on that end.
“We’re not really worried about that right now,” Smith said. “We have a lot of talented players, and we just wanted to see how they can work together to generate good shots. Once we get there, we’ll continue to add more on that end.”
The Raiders now prepare for their summer workouts before heading into the new season next November, now with even more optimism after some strong perfomances.
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