After jumping out to an 8-2 record (6-1 in conference) Indian River’s basketball team dropped its third straight game to the Northern Henlopen Conference in an 85-70 loss to Sussex Tech on Jan. 24. Indian River played Sussex Tech close to the vest through three quarters and the Ravens held only a 54-53 lead. But every time the Indians held their ground, eventually they gave way.
If the Indians missed a shot, they got the offensive rebound and put back. Reserve guard Miyo Castro scored two of his three baskets on offensive rebounds, as did much of the rest of the team. Reserve center Byron Marshall stepped in for a couple rebounds (one offensive rebound resulted in a second-chance basket) and a huge three-pointer from the corner. It kept the Indians in the fight but eventually the Ravens broke free.
“Defensively we broke down,” said Indians Head Coach Pat Kelly. “We didn’t control their penetration and we didn’t rotate well when pressing. It isn’t advisable to do that with a shooter like Tracey Jones.”
Jones finished the game with a game-high 37 points and, though he shot a dismal 2-8 from beyond the three-point line, he made up for it by finishing around the basket
Three times he picked Indian River ball-handlers for scores and usually for the basket and the foul. Jones’ head-first play put center Jeremy Purnell in first-half foul trouble with four.
And as if that wasn’t enough, Jones was shooting the lights out. Indian River couldn’t stop the rest of Ravens, either. Mike Bell had 16 points and Jacque Bowe added 10, while Donez Collins scored nine points and five assists and worked the fast break for easy baskets and free-throw opportunities.
Sussex Tech hit 15 of 22 free throws compared to only 10 of 23 for Indian River.
Indian River lost to Cape Henlopen 65-62 because of a lack of defense, according to Kelly.
“We played hard for a lot of those games,” said Kelly, “but we’re not playing hard enough defense. It doesn’t matter what defense you’re in if you don’t play hard or at least with the defense that my teams have been known for in the past. We’re going to have to work harder or we’re not going to be successful.”
Indian River lost to the Vikings because they were out of position defensively and as a result had an enormous amount of free-throw attempts. The Vikings nailed 21 of 24 free throws, compared to only 10 of 16 for the Indians.
“We need to make the commitment to do the hard work because hard work builds success. That’s what’s going to keep us going,” said Kelly.
Indian River did get some production from its bench but it wasn’t enough. Now the goal is get the team playing higher than its capabilities if they’re going to get over the hump.
Curtis Chandler scored 24 against the Vikings and 21 against Sussex Tech. Brian Bell chipped in with 15 in both games, but Kelly insisted that the entire team not just ride their scorers’ shots to improve in the rankings and get over the hump.
“Right now we need the whole to be greater than the sum of parts,” said Kelly.