Academics Plus’ final game of the year was a reflection of how its season went.
The Falcons lost, 59-56, in the district tournament Monday to host Nemo Vista. Like they have all season, the Falcons (11-19) just couldn’t pull out the victory at the end. They usually have a period where they don’t play well, and that happened in the first half.
"In the first half, we dug ourselves into a hole," Coach John Harrison said. "We made a great comeback. We were down 30-19 at the half, and they stretched that to 15 points. We started climbing back in and were down six going into the fourth quarter. It was a really good game."
While the season didn’t go the way Harrison had hoped, he sees improvement and step by step the program is getting better. The Falcons played a lot of underclassmen and thus the growing pains.
"I thought we underachieved a little," he said. "I really thought this would be a great season, and I’m proud of the guys the way they battled. The other teams had to play their best to beat us, and that is a big, big plus. It had never been that way."
Harrison said the other coaches noticed that, too. He received accolades from the coaches after almost every contest.
"The kids put it all on the line," he said. "It makes you feel good as a teacher and a coach when the coaches from the other teams comment on how extremely hard your kids played. They would say they wished they could get their kids to play that way."
Harrison thinks a little more commitment and harder work from some of the guys could have made a difference. Every time it looked like the Falcons were ready to gel, something would detour that progress.
Still small steps were made. This was the first time the Falcons reached double digit victories. Those wins could easily have been more if they could have pulled out some of the losses at the end.
"Out of the 19 losses, 10 maybe 11 could have gone either way," Harrison said. "Some of the teams we lost to (Conway Christian, Little Rock Episcopal, Sacred Heart) were nothing to hang your head."
While Harrison will miss the seniors, he has several returning players. He feels like the guys got better and learned as the season progressed. For Harrison, next year can’t get here fast enough.