Maumelle’s last basketball game of the season wasn’t anything like the Hornets are used to playing.
A 48-37 loss to Brookland in the first round of the state tournament was hard for Coach Michael Shook to digest. Averaging 63 points for the season, the 37 points were a shock. Also, the Hornets (21-11) average 63 shot attempts per game but took just 26 in that final game.
"Brookland had a good game plan," Shook said. "I had seen film on them and knew they were very, very overly patient. They can and will pass one and a half to four minutes and then take the exact shot they want which is usually a 3-pointer."
Shook also said for some reason his guys had an uncharacteristic 16 turnovers. The two teams play opposite styles, and Brookland was able to succeed with its slower pace and handled Maumelle’s pressure.
"It was frustrating and hard for me to watch," Shook said. "It’s one thing to lose, but I hated the season ended the way it did. We do know what we are capable of next year."
Losing only three seniors, Shook has the majority of this team back next season. Of the three seniors — Cole Thomas, Kendall Terry and Jeremy Collins — Thomas started and had significant playing time. Thomas’ absence means the Falcons only lose 20 percent of their scoring and 25 percent of their rebounding.
"With almost everybody back, I fully expect us to be better next year," Shook said. "This year we had to spend a lot of time putting in our pressure traps and offense. All we have to do next year is refresh all that and build on that."
During the off-season, Shook also wants his players to get stronger and quicker. He says they will also focus on man-to-man defense.
Looking back and reflecting on the season, Shook is happy with the way it went. Until conference play, the Hornets did not win two games in a row. However, Shook is pleased the guys persevered, kept fighting and believed and trusted in the coaching system. That paid off as the Hornets were 4A-4 conference co-champs and 4-North regional champs. Maumelle shared conference honors with Pottsville and also had to beat them in the regional finals. Pottsville is playing for the state title, and Shook pointed out that of Pottsville’ six losses, two are to Maumelle.
"We had some bumps along the road in the first part of the season, but it paid off in conference," Shook said. "It was a great season for my first as a head coach, and I learned a lot of good things."