By Thomas Sellers Jr.
MEMPHIS – When trying to overcome a slump, a team might still display some of the faults that put them in a losing streak.
The Tipton-Rosemark Academy Rebels entered the Westminster Academy Gymnasium last Thursday as the favorites taking on the host Defenders. And despite a few defensive lapses, the Rebels were able to pull away from Westminster to win 71-52.
“We went to the St. Benedict Tournament over Christmas and played hard,” TRA Head Coach Jason Morgan recalled. “But we lost three ball games. We came out of Christmas break a little sluggish.
“We haven’t been playing well,” he continued. “So any time you’re riding a five game losing streak, you don’t care if you beat the Chicago Bulls or the Poor Sisters of America, a win is a win. You’re happy to get one.”
The Rebels were still a little sluggish in the first quarter only leading 17-14 after eight minutes. Early on TRA was paced by the post play of Matt “Moose” Moody and the slashing of Conner Alexander to the basket.
Rebel Braxton Ross contributed with a three-pointer and his teammate Austin Chambers made the score 17-14 with a put-back basket before the buzzer.
TRA heated up in the second quarter outscoring the Defenders 23-7. Ahead 23-16 Moody went back to work in the post scoring a follow-up bucket. Then seconds later he made the score 28-17 with a three-point play.
With the score 30-21, the Rebels closed out the first half on a 10-0 run. Moody got things rolling with a pair of foul shots. Then the junior power forward cleaned up another miss with a layup making the score 36-21. To conclude the half Alexander made another athletic play crashing the boards for a put-back bucket making the scoreboard read 40-21 heading into the locker room.
TRA maintained the 19-point advantage in the third quarter. Players like Nick Biggs, Ryan McCrory and Ben Tribble scored points in the period.
As the quarter neared a conclusion, Ross drained another triple from the baseline. Then Alexander drove to the rim for a layup giving TRA a 62-43 lead.
Both teams scored the same amount of points again in the fourth quarter. The Rebels put 19 points on the board while Westminster tallied 19.
Morgan was happy to leave Memphis with a victory but wants to see the point total of the opposing team decrease per quarter.
“We need to come out and move our feet and play defense,” he said. “At one point this year and intervals like tonight, the hallmark of our team is we really get up and down the floor. We play great defense. Tonight we just kept getting into foul trouble. The rebounding situation was ridiculous. The simple stuff like the Bobby Knight deny-the-flash drill, just little easy things.”
Morgan acknowledge that his team features several players who play other sports and are not year-around basketball players. He is having to teach some basics as his team takes on opponents featuring AAU talent and longtime hoopsters.
“They are doing a great job,” Morgan said of his players. “They are doing great and I’m really pleased with what I’ve got. Not that I’m looking forward to next year. I’ve got most of my points and a lot of speed coming back next year. That’s next year.
“ Before we host Fayette and go to Jackson a couple of times in the week and half, we have to play better defense, especially half court defense,” he concluded. “We have to rebound better. We’re going to see if we can keep on getting better.”