As the calendar turns from 2018 to 2019, the time has come to do some self-reflection and make New Year’s resolutions.
In the same way, Sandpoint’s boys and girls basketball teams could make a few New Year’s resolutions of their own. Although both teams are at very different places right now, both have at least a few areas of improvement. Neither team is perfect, but both have made positive steps in the first halves of their respective seasons.
With that said, the Sandpoint girls are in dire need of consistent effort in 2019. The Bulldogs have fallen prey to slow starts, offensive lapses and spotty intensity throughout the season.
But when the girls play with the same level of intensity on both ends of the floor, they look like a formidable team.
The Bonners Ferry win gave a glimpse of the Bulldogs’ potential. In that game, Sandpoint’s defense started sharp. They forced turnovers. Sandpoint made an effort to hold Bonners Ferry’s top scorers in check from the get-go; the Bulldogs held the Badgers to 14 first half points.
Meanwhile on offense, Dawson Driggs and Hattie Larson — two adept and fearless scorers in their own ways — drove to the basket and got to the free throw line. Eventually the Badgers switched up their defense, which opened up the outside shot for Maddie Morgan and Kaylee Banks. This team-wide, complete performance was no accident: Consistent efforts on both ends equaled a 55-29 win over a team that currently has a 10-2 record.
If the girls can bottle up that moxie from the Bonners Ferry game, then they can turn around their 2-9 season. The roster has enough talent to pull it off, but they’ll need to make some strategic and changes in intensity to accomplish this.
The good news? The girls are more than capable of making it happen.
Elsewhere, the boys have pulled off a significant turnaround. But their work isn’t finished.
The boys have most of their production from starters, namely junior wings Kobe Banks and Ryan Roos. Since moving into the starting lineup, senior forward Alex Stockton has given the Bulldogs not only a scoring option down low, but also a prolific rebounder on both ends of the floor. And this isn’t mentioning senior point guard Bruin Jones’ court vision and outside shooting — both of which have been vital so far.
Offensive production tapers further down the depth chart. Ever since Stockton moved to the starting lineup, the bench has had one (1) player score in double-figures in a single game. As a unit, the bench has scored 92 of this season’s 430 points. Granted, good teams can riding the starting five and find some success, but great teams will usually have capable scorers come off the bench.
Now here’s the fine print: The bench has been the difference-maker this season. Having six guys come off the bench — some of whom play starter-level minutes — and play an up-tempo defense is a luxury few teams have. Sandpoint’s reserves might put up gaudy numbers, but they’re still important.
Getting offensive production from the bench will work wonders — especially if the Bulldogs make the state tournament. The quick turnaround favors deeper teams. Although Sandpoint would be a tough out if the state tournament started today, they could make it to the next level with another contributor.
But in light of Sandpoint’s 5-4 record and the progress they’ve made so far, perhaps the author should add “stop nit-picking” to his New Year’s resolutions (along with double-checking scorebook math, watching more wrestling and not making so many mistakes).