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Defense key for Buchtel boys basketball’s success this season

2/13/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

WEST AKRON — Buchtel High School boys basketball head coach Steve White said his team’s success this season has been keyed by its defense.

“We rely on our pressure and our quickness,” he said. “We press all over. We have a lot of energy and we’re real scrappy. We’re not very big, so we play everybody tough.”

Through Feb. 9, Buchtel was 12-4 overall, including a 9-1 mark in the City Series.

“We’ve played well,” White said. “We lost [Feb. 8] at home to Ellet, and I was disappointed because we didn’t come with our usual energy. I saw it in the third quarter, and I told one of our assistant coaches that it was just not going to be our night. We had beaten them by 14 at their place and then they beat us by 10 at our place. That just shows you how strange basketball is.”

White said he believes the loss can be a wakeup call for his team heading into the postseason.

“We’re going to take that film and use it to our advantage to get back on track,” he said. “We’re doing really well overall, though. We just had that little hiccup against Ellet, but I think as long as we continue to get better and work hard, we’ll be OK.”

According to White, this year’s team has experience.

“Our first five played last year,” he said. “We have four seniors, and three of them have been with the program for four years. So we have a lot of experience and we have good senior leadership.”

White said senior point guard Tre’ Smith “really sets the tone” for the team.

“Tre’ is having an outstanding year for us,” the coach said. “He gets us into our offense, and he does a little bit of everything we need. He just does an all-around good job for us.”

Sharing the backcourt with Smith are guards La’Shawn Johnson and Ci’Andre Johnson-Lollar, both of whom have had to work through injury concerns, the coach said.

“La’Shawn’s injured right now. He hurt his knee [Jan. 7] against Firestone, but we’re expecting him back soon. He’s very quick. He gets to the basket easily and does a lot of stuff for us that’s very good,” White stated. “Ci’Andre got injured and had to sit out four games, so he’s kind of making his way back. He started off really well, but then he sprained his ankle, and he’s trying to get back into form. But the season’s going pretty good for him overall so far.”

Working in the front court are junior forwards Talen Sims and Deric Rucker.

“Both of them are playing very well,” the coach said. “Deric is a little more athletic, while Talen’s probably our leading rebounder at eight a game. They’re doing what we ask of them.”

Other key players, White noted, include Jared Puryear, D’Angelo Smith-Waymon and Antonio Hambrick.

“Jared is shooting the ball real well for us,” he said. “And D’Angelo Smith[-Waymon] and Antonio are also doing good jobs for us.”

White said his team will be looking to strengthen its zone offense with the postseason approaching.

“Everyone plays a zone on us because they don’t think we can shoot,” he said. “We just have to keep practicing it and keep working on it.”

Buchtel will finish its regular season Feb. 14 at 7 p.m. against North High School at home, and White said his team is ready to make a run.

“I think our realistic goal is to win our league, the City Series championship, and then to move forward and get in the district final,” White said. “When you come to play us, it’s going to be a tough game, a hard game. If you don’t come to play, you’re going to have some problems.”

For more on Buchtel’s game against Firestone Feb. 7, see related photo feature on Page 19.

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