After winning their season-opening contest, the Sealy Lady Tiger basketball team dropped both its games last week to Columbus, 62-51, and Fulshear, 51-33, and was set to host West Columbia Tuesday evening.
Head coach Anthony Branch said it’s still early in the season and there’s plenty of time before the district-opening game against Royal on Jan. 5 but he was looking for continued improvement from week two to week three of the season.
“I’m just looking for us to continue improving and play even better, and if we focus on the things like blocking out, we focused on shooting form correctly and keeping a positive mindset, even when the ball’s not going in, eventually it will go in. It’ll show out there when we play,” Branch said.
The head coach said although Sealy made more trips to the free-throw line than both of last week’s opponents, the free-throw percentage has been another point of emphasis in practice.
“It comes down to you can’t shoot 16% and 20% in those games and expect to win,” Branch said. “We’ve got to get some scoring from other people and we just gotta put in a little extra time on our own and get out there and just get to shooting; shoot a little bit after practice.”
Junior Evelyn Harrington is one exception to the shooting woes, registering 15.7 points per game and a 37.5 shooting percentage through the first three games, second only to senior Heaven Hernandez’ 41.2 shooting percentage. Harrington posted a season-high 23 points against Columbus last Tuesday to go along with seven rebounds and three assists.
Branch said he has been pleased to see Harington’s offseason work shine in her third year in a starting role for the Lady Tigers.
“I think she’s really learned some lessons from the past. She’s really worked hard, she was constantly putting work in the gym or begging me to get in the gym over the summer and stay longer,” Branch said.
“She bought into it; she’s all in and she’s very coachable. She’s really made some really nice adjustments to her game and also herself personally, I think she’s really grown up and starting to mature.”
Also reaping the rewards of some offseason work has been senior Megan Schaaf who has rounded out her game to be a threat on both sides of the ball and capable of hitting the three-point shot as well.
“(Schaaf) made some strides when she came in the summer. She now went from just being a player that will get a charge or get a rebound, to now becoming a little bit more of a threat to score or get to the free-throw line,” Branch said. “Overall, for free-throws percentage, she’s number three. You have Evelyn at 65% she’s 15 of 23, then Brylie (Bond) is 7 of 20 for 35% and Megan’s 4 of 12 for 33%, number three on the team but we have got to make those free throws.”
Another player Branch hopes to work into the offensive fold more is senior Avery Oliver who he hopes to use her height in a possibly unconventional way after her delayed start to the season following the volleyball playoffs.
“Someone I want to see out on the perimeter, and some people may think I’m nuts to take a 6-foot 2-inch kid and put her out on the perimeter, but Avery Oliver can flat-out shoot the basketball out there,” Branch said. “I was pleasantly surprised the way she played against Columbus. I thought she played really well (seven points, seven rebounds). She’s starting to get more comfortable because she’s been in the post and that’s where we’ve had her always and it’s a little different out there, but I noticed that in practice the last couple of times she’s starting to want to put the ball on the floor more.”
In the pair of contests last week, senior Brylie Bond collected 13 points, eight rebounds, four steals, two assists and a rebound, Schaaf finished with eight points and eight rebounds, senior Heaven Hernandez recorded seven points, three rebounds, one assist, one steal and one charge, and classmate Marleeza Williams totaled five points, seven rebounds and one steal.
Senior Montana Hicks registered two points and a steal in her first two games of the season, junior Julia Jurecka compiled three rebounds and two points, and sophomore Jasmyne Joiner pulled down 11 rebounds and scored three points.
Junior Alexa Hernandez made her season debut last Saturday against Fulshear and scored two points and grabbed two rebounds where Harrington also provided 13 points, three rebounds, two steals and an assist against the former district foe.