Although it may not look so good on the surface, the Sylvan Hills Bears have been laying a foundation for the future, and Tuesday night’s 76-71 win over Helena-West Helena in overtime could be one of those games that head coach Kevin Davis can look back on as a milestone in the success of his program in the next two to three seasons.
Trailing by as many as 20 points, the Bears hit the floor in the second half as a different team—literally.
"We got to work on our press," Davis said. "We haven’t had a chance to work on it much in practice, so I was teaching on the sideline."
Davis said the way the game played out was a credit to his team.
"We had great guard play on defense, and great post play on offense," Davis said.
Davis’ strategy was to chip away, and work the lane.
"On offense we wanted to slow the game down and maybe stop the clock at the free throw line," Davis said.
Davis said his team resisted the urge to try to make up the deficit too quickly from the three-point line. Instead they bought into his strategy of patience on offense, and tenacity on defense.
"We chipped away," Davis said, "and got it to overtime."
The Bears shot the ball well. Ronnie Hinton led with 23 points including five from beyond three-point range. Aumonie Armond had 20 while Tra Doss and David Johnson had nine each.
Davis called the win "huge" in light of where his team is developmentally together with the atmosphere and the venue.
"Helena is a tough place to play," Davis said. "The students and the fans really got into it. It was a very good game for the players to play in and the fans to watch."
Davis got into the game as well.
"I’m worn out," Davis said right after the game. "The players said I was up and into every play on both ends of the floor."
The Bears’ roster is loaded with young players who have not had much if any varsity experience going into the 2012-13 season, and a 3-7 conference record that reflects such youth. The Bears have taken their lumps this season.
But after fighting back in a game that Davis said was a "tale of two different halves", the Bears may have grown up.
In fact, Davis said that Tuesday’s game might be one of those games that players can look back on in the seasons to come.
Davis said one thing is true. He saw his team grow up on Tuesday night.