Indian River’s junior varsity basketball team started its northern conference bid on a high note by beating 6-3 Polytech at home 45-42 on Jan. 17, which extended their current winning streak to four games. Tyshun Rembert snatched victory fwhen he stroked his fifth consecutive three-pointer for the game-winner against Milford on Jan. 13.
Indian River improved its record to 4-4 with 12 games remaining and now looks down the barrel of a tough three-game stint against Cape Henlopen, Sussex Central and Sussex Tech in the coming week.
“Now we can start looking ahead,” said Head Coach Brian Robbins. “This win gets us back to .500 and it turns the season around. We have some big games coming up but the guys are pumped up.”
Polytech prides itself with its hustle and tough defense but Indian River’s determined win Jan. 17 proved that its going to be hard for teams to run with them — literally. Polytech held a 10-point first-half lead but the Indians hung in there and pulled out a win.
“Our team tries to mimic the varsity team’s intensity but we couldn’t continue our first-half success. We made some adjustments to get the ball inside but didn’t execute” said Polytech Head Coach T.J. Byrnes. “Indian River never gave up and that was the key to the game.”
Robbins cut his boys loose and embraced an up-tempo style of play that has resulted in their four-game winning streak.
“Basically, these guys are playing organized streetball,” explained Robbins. “I’ll let them push it if it’s there. We play wide open and though we might not be the best JV team out there each night, we are the best conditioned. It didn’t hurt us to run in the fourth quarter against Milford. I’d made up my mind Friday that we were going to win by one or two.”
Usually JV games play only six-minute quarters but on Fridays they extend the time to eight minutes, to which Robbins attributed the victory.
Teams that push the ball need someone to handle the rock and Jamar Manuel shoulders that task well. He has the ability to penetrate the lane to sink those hanging shots that tickle every bit of the rim, making it very difficult to stop him. He scored 17 points against Milford and that action attracted double-teams and triple-teams in the second half — especially in the final minutes of the game. His ability to penetrate opens up the Indians’ outside shooting.
“They (Milford) weren’t going to let Jamar beat them but Erin (Miller) looked for him but he wasn’t there. The pass to T.T. (Tyshun) was high because the man guarding Jamar was in the way
Manuel stacked 13 points, nine rebounds (seven offensive), five of the team’s 10 assists and three steals in the win over Polytech. But despite handling the ball the most, he is willing to give it up — especially in a game-winning situation.
“I trust them,” said Manuel.
Rembert finished the Milford game with 16 points and all without his game jersey. Somehow this superstitious basketball player sunk all of his three-point shots including his first ever game-winning shot in a different jersey and despite his earlier misgivings.
“I was a little nervous because it was Friday the 13th but my mind just went blank when I shot and it felt perfect from the release.”
The game against Milford might not have been so close had Indian River shot better than 18-40 from the free-throw line, which exhausted Robbins.
“We can’t shoot less than 50 percent from the free-throw line and win,” said Robbins. “Jamar has the ability get to the basket and is good for 18 to 20 points a game but when he gets to the free-throw line he hits less than 50 percent.”
Indian River made strides against Polytech and shot 9-12 (75 percent) from the charity stripe, which included two big free-throws from Marcus Davis that extended the lead to three in the last minute of the game. Davis missed his only shot in the first half but was a big reason for their second-half turnaround. He scored nine points on 3-4 shooting, including a three-pointer, and collected three steals.
Polytech finished the game with one less free-throw made (8-14) and that shot proved to be a difference-maker.
Corey Myles shot 3-4 from the free-throw line and hit a huge fourth-quarter three-pointer for part of his 13 points. He set the pace for many of Indian River’s fast-break points by breaking Polytech’s fast-break. Myles snagged five steals, three of which were long passes, and he was able to re-route them into scoring opportunities. He scored a season-best 18 points in the win over Milford in what Robbins called his “best game of the year.”
Now that the Indians have evened up their record by winning four straight, the next game will be the most important. Indian River has done well pushing the ball but Robbins said he needs his team to get in sync.“We have an ideal team,” explained Robbins, “we have a good point guard, a big man, and decent outside shooting. But we need all three aspects get into sync.”