We lost 58-53. We led at one point by four, and Oviedo led by nine. Those were the extremes as they were, but the battle lay between. We started the game well, but in retrospect hurt ourselves in two critical areas. We missed too many shots around the basket, and did not push the ball up the floor. This prohibited us from building a lead. As the half closed, we literally traded baskets with the Lions and gave up a senseless three at the buzzer because we failed to stop the ball. They led 30-29.
At the start of the second half, we missed two clean looks early and went down two possessions. We showed great resolve in keeping the game tight. This is a trait that was absent until this week. We started the fourth quarter down 42-40, and were promptly outscored 9-2. This presented us with a crossroads: nice effort, or fight to the end. Thankfully, we fought. Devon Ortiz scored nine straight points for us and we had the game to five in the final minute. We could not get any closer.
We play next Thursday night on the road in Viera or New Smyrna Beach depending on who wins their game tomorrow night. Somehow at 6-21, a hellish record by any standard, I am filled with a sense of optimism.
We have endured so much adversity thus far that it’s truly unlikely, short of a Marshall air disaster (and we are riding the bus) we could suffer anymore. Our espirit de corps has been found, and we have a core of underclass players to build on. We played seven guys tonight and only one is a senior. In Devon Ortiz, Marcus Camacho and Aaron Penn Jr., we have three sophomores on their way to playing a lot of varsity basketball. Graham Sweeney, Alex Robinson and Taylor Knode are juniors. We will need to add quality depth, but a core is in place. They are cohesive and committed to improving. Thus the optimism.
On a deeper level, we have a team, a coachable team. That is why I chose the pic at the top of this post. I believe the 2007 Fiesta Bowl victory of Boise State over Oklahoma is a reference point for the connection between coaching and playing. In a game where they stepped up in class against a talented opponent of great pedigree, they didn’t just win, they won with hook and ladders and statutes of liberty. The coaches and players on that team were connected in a deep way. The preparation and past experience gave them a trust and faith in each other that overwhelmed the stage and circumstances of the game. It allowed them to play with fun, freedom and focus in the biggest game of their lives.
Our last two games have been our first two games in getting to that level.