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The Velma-Alma basketball teams played with the Comanche basketball teams in two out of four halfs. The reason why the visitors walked away with two wins at Velma was the other two.
The girls 45-39 victory started out lopsided. Coach Sean Hushbeck was most impressed with how the Indians (3-2) grabbed momentum in a dominant first period and didn’t let it go.
“We probably played our best half of basketball in a couple of years,” Hushbeck said. “The girls knocked down good shots that we had been taking, but not making. It seemed like the more they made those, the easier it got to make those shots.”
Riding that wave of momentum, Hushbeck would have preferred if the team didn’t even have to go into halftime, but it still was able to hold onto the win. It was a victory that Hushbeck agreed the team could hang its hat on.
“(Wednesday) in practice, the girls were a lot more smiles and playing hard,” Hushbeck said. “For a group that went 2-20 last year, this was a trophy win.”
The team’s leading returning scorer from last year, senior Payge Graham, had 13 points for the Indians, but her defensive presence was an even bigger help. Hushbeck put her on Velma-Alma’s leading scorer, Ariah Johnson, and he thought Graham did a good job of slowing down the forward, who already has three 20-plus games.
“She really had a tough task, and she did a really good job of making (Johnson) earn every point she got,” Hushbeck said. “Even though she’s struggled a little bit offensively, she has played unbelievably defensively.”
The second half of Comanche’s dominant night was the second half of the boys game. The 58-37 victory on Tuesday started out similar to the 57-35 win in the Comet Classic on Friday, when the teams last met. A 26-22 halftime lead for the Indians (4-1) deepened the feeling of deja vu as the team entered the locker room at 22-22 only a few days ago. The same second half conclusion followed.
Though a small lead at the half has been a trend so far this season, Comanche coach Nick Price thinks it has little to do with his players not performing well.
“We’re doing some things well in the first half, but in the second half, we’re doing a good job of coming out and having even more intensity in the second half,” Price said. “We’re doing a good job of playing all four quarters, not having that letdown any time in the second half... We’ve got kids who are not going to give up.”
Price added that he can feel the players are starting to build up an understanding for what their roles should be on the team. With the few games that have been played this season, it has taken a while for that to develop and Price thinks there is still a lot of improvement yet to be made.
“I felt like our kids are really close to each other, have a good bond, but we still have to get used to offensively understanding each other,” Price said.
Comanche will play at Central High on Friday, a game that was postponed from Dec. 10. Velma-Alma won’t play until Jan. 3, when it will host Ringling.