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January 23, 2014

Tough tourney awaits Demon boys hoops

DUNCAN — The schedule won’t get any easier for the Duncan boys basketball team.

The Demons (1-8) are headed to Altus Thursday for the first round of the Clester Harrington Shortgrass Tournament. Duncan gets Houston Christian Youth Academy right off the bat.

HCYA features six-foot seven-inch senior forward Justin Jackson, ranked as one of the top 100 high school recruits by ESPN. Jackson has already committed to play for North Carolina.

“Their coach described him as a small Kevin Durant,” said Demon coach Ben Scott. “They have a lot of height, so we will need to slow them down on transition, limit them to one shot and get the rebound.”

What should help, Scott said, is that HYCA doesn’t run a pressure defense. That should allow the Demons a chance to settle down and run their offense.

It won’t get any easier Friday, regardless of Thursday’s outcome. On Duncan’s side of the bracket are Lawton MacArthur and Altus, both ranked among the best Class 5A teams. Duncan has played them both, losing to MacArthur 77-42 and Altus 82-42 in December. But Scott is more concerned about his players improving.

“It’s another one of those games where all we want to focus on is getting better,” he said. “It’s a loaded bracket, but we want to play teams that will make us a better ball club.”

The Demon girls (0-9), meanwhile, head to Little Axe for the Bobby Hicks Invitational Tournament. Duncan expects to face some teams that it should match up well against.

Demon girls coach Grant Givens doesn’t have much information about Duncan’s first-round opponent, Harding Charter Prep. But Givens expects that, if his players execute their gameplan, they should have a good tournament.

“We’re lookng to go in there and continue to improve,” Givens said. “We want to play hard and compete, and hopefully pull out a win or two.”

The Demons spent the past several days of practice working on their offense and defense. Givens said the focus was on “refreshing our minds” on what the players need to do on the floor. He said those practices went well and hopes it carries over to the tournament.

Although the Demons have yet to win a game, the players continue to work hard in practice, which Givens is pleased with.

“What most people don’t get to see is, even though things haven’t gone our way, they still come into practice with good attitudes,” he said. “I’ve been really pleased with that.”

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