Friday night’s lights now rain down upon the basketball court at Sealy High School and tonight will be the start of the ever-important games in the season that will determine the playoff seeding by the end of it.
The Needville Lady Jays will play the role of visitor for this district kickoff as losers of their previous three contests in a row.
However, the Lady Tigers are on a similar skid of their own, dropping their last four games, meaning that something will have to give on the court tonight.
Sealy still owns an overall record that currently has them afloat in class 4A’s district 25 in region IV but Needville does not benefit from that same luxury, lurking near the bottom of the standings, for now.
Tiger Head Coach Anthony Branch knows the Jays have some players who can indeed make the plays when they’re needed but if the hosts can control the inside, Branch feels as though his girls have a good shot.
“As long as we can rebound the shots they miss and keep them out of the post and away from the easy buckets then we should be good,” he noted.
From the film, he could tell a couple of Needville seniors will make things difficult for Sealy for a good portion of the night.
Bella Ruggeroli, Branch noted, can do a little bit of everything, hit the open shot, rebound, make passes and post up to attack the rim from in close.
“We really have to contain [Ruggeroli] and limit her touches,” coach Branch said. “We know she’s going to score so we just need to limit her touches as much as possible.”
Cami Buell supplements her classmate with her athletic and aggressive nature, and Branch knows whoever Buell is assigned to cover is going to receive her fair share of hand checks and smothering defense.
But he knows his squad must also make the shots on the other end of the floor which he has faith in a couple shooters who have been putting in some extra work after practices.
“Brylie Bond and Zoee Jeffrey both have the form down and it’s just a matter of the ball going through the hoop more often,” Branch said, knowing they are right on the doorstep of shooting the lights out game in and game out.
Branch also noted he will have to rely on them a little bit more than usual after dwindling roster numbers leave him with only seven healthy bodies for the near future but despite that, he still views his team as having all of the pieces to put something together to reach the postseason.
“I keep saying we’re young but at the same time, Diari [Dabney] gets only one more shot at the playoffs so it would be great to send her out on a positive note,” he added.
Although the youth holds the majority on the roster, Branch sees that as a great sign for the future as these underclassmen are already getting experience they can draw back on in the coming years.
“We may still be learning but these girls are trying hard,” Branch included. “You can really tell they want to be great.”
The next step will come tonight in the Sealy High School gymnasium with tipoff scheduled for 7 p.m. or whenever the junior varsity game comes to an end.