NIXON — The Mustangs (1-3) hung in there, but by the end of the night, they were unable to get over their deficiencies on offense, losing in a District 27-3A game against Marion (4-0), 55-46.
The game plan was simple for Nixon-Smiley. Use their zone defense to force limit Marion’s offense, out rebound their opponents, then convert on their own offensive end.
And throughout the first half the Mustangs did just that.
“We knew we couldn’t go out and defend them in man, just because of their size, so we figured in zone we could at least contest the three-point shot and eliminate their second and third shots,” Nixon-Smiley Head Coach Carlton McKinney said of his players.
The Mustangs were up 22-16 with 2:29 left in the half before Marion scored six points to end the half.
In one possession, a Marion Bulldog grabbed three straight offensive rebounds before finally getting the put back, then converting on an and-one after being fouled. A minute later, another Bulldog shooter converted a three pointer to end the half tied at 22.
The third quarter ended with the Mustangs just down three, but then fatigue hit and Marion took advantage, outscoring Nixon-Smiley 14-8 to take the nine-point win.
“We didn’t work nearly as hard as we should have and we gave them some opportunities in critical points in games in the second half, which is always the case which it’s either a two-, three-possession ball game where we let them get a second, third, fourth opportunity whether it’s either a put-back or a three pointer that was kicked out,” McKinney explained. “It changes what we can do because we hit some shots early but then you put a lot of pressure on your offense to make plays late. Although we did a good job of hanging in there, we couldn’t ever get over the hump. If we want to be a good basketball team and not just ‘hang in’ with teams like this and try to have an opportunity to beat teams like this, that is what we got to do next, we got to make sure we can finish the play and we weren’t able to finish it tonight.”
Nixon-Smiley’s height will play a big factor, as the tallest athlete listed in the roster is just 5-10. So the advantage for the Mustangs will indeed be their hustle.
“If there’s any advantage that we have is to just outwork our opponents and we try to tell our kids that every day,” McKinney admitted. “Our practice is set up that way. It has to be an attitude. We know we’re always going to be the underdog whoever we play and teams are going to try to attack us, because I would if I was on the other side. For us, it’s just we got to make sure we’re the toughest team out there and when we are we have our opportunity to win.”
Leading the team in scoring was Jason Yell with 14 points. Colby Newman was right behind with 12 points, while Daniel Rodriguez came away with 10. Jose Rodriguez added four points, Jesus Vasquez, Jaren Mendez and Elix Carillo each had two points.
The Mustangs hope to get back on the winning side with their scrappiness as they travel Hallettsville (2-2) on Friday. Nixon-Smiley then hosts Schulenburg (2-2) on Tuesday, Jan. 16. Both tipoffs are scheduled for 8 p.m.
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