The Duncan Banner
The saying “the best is yet to come” doesn’t apply for Stephens County boys basketball.
The 51-48 final between Comanche and Marlow on the opening game of the season provided a glimpse of excellence for Stephens County residents.
Comanche won that game and has excelled to a 5-1 record. Marlow rebounded and stands at 3-1. While the Indians won the head to head meeting, the Outlaws beat Washington only six days after the Warriors gave the Indians their only loss.
Comanche coach Nick Price has been pleased so far with how his team has performed.
“We’re about on pace with where we thought we would be,” Price said. “I don’t think we’re where we are going to be in a month, but we are where we need to be right now.”
So is senior Jacob Hammond. The senior transfer scored 25 in his first game in Comanche red at Marlow, and continues to put on a show. Price called the six-foot ten-inch center a gamechanger.
“It’s nice to know defensively that every once in awhile when we have a breakdown on defense and someone gets beat, it’s not just a layup for the other team,” Price said. “We’ve got Jacob there to protect the rim.”
Even when Hammond isn’t scoring 20 points, it’s because he is keeping the opposition’s attention solely on himself. That’s when the rest of the players can go to work knowing they will have open looks.
The guards have thrived off this. In the 71-46 win at Central, Hammond only had 13 points, but sophomore Braden Ledford had his second 20-plus point night of the season.
“We knew he could score,” Price said. “He has done a good job this year of maturing and understanding when his shots are there and when they are not.”
For Marlow, senior Trey Coffman thinks the intial surge of expectations from the players helped them off to a fast start.
“We just came out with a good mindset at the very beginning that we could be pretty good,” Coffman said. “Now that we are beating some people, we’re trying to keep it going.”
So far the Outlaws haven’t allowed not their size to get in their way. Coffman assumes the ironic term of the team’s “big man,” but he is listed as one inch taller than the starting point guard, senior Nathan Crowson.
However, having all five starters hasn’t slowed Marlow down and in some ways it has helped. The offense coach Kirk Harris runs is so interchangeable that any player can rush in for a rebound attempt or step back and take a three.
“I don’t think it’s that bad,” Coffman said. “We can all run, jump, shoot, and move... We’re all versatile.”
It also helps on defense where the players can switch who they are defending with ease if they get beat.
That is a derivitive of the team’s experience. There are six seniors on the roster and the starting lineup has only one underclassman — sophomore Braden O’Dell, the leading scorer.
“A lot of people look up to us and we have to give them answers and produce,” Coffman said. “We’ve all been here since freshman year. So it’s awesome to be out there.”
Marlow will resume its season hosting Newcastle on Jan. 7. Comanche will play it’s next game at Madill on Jan. 7 as well.