SPRING HILL, Fla. — In tournament or regular season basketball there is always a challenge for any basketball team and to be able to overcome the hardship that can help a team’s chemistry for the rest of the basketball season.
Springstead High School had a hard life lesson to master on Friday afternoon Jan. 3, facing Wesley Chapel High School for the third place finish at the Fifth Annual Greg O’Connell Basketball New Year Shootout inside the gym known as the Eagle’s Nest.
The game was a physical contest, with a controversial call with 17 seconds left in the game but a tough Wesley Chapel High School survived and defeated the Eagles 47-44 and finished the tournament in third place.
Thursday night action Jan. 2 against Anclote High School, Eagle’s point guard Unique Torain injured his ankle in the 70-61 defeat against the Sharks and that set the stage for the Friday evening showdown against the Wildcats.
“Unique has been the pillar of everything we have asked and need him to do this year,” Springstead High School basketball coach Matthew McGarry said. “He is a kid that has grown in our system sitting here as a junior, he has been up on varsity since his freshman year. He is doing all the little things the right way and the kids accept him as who he is and that is helpful because he is an extreme talent.”
Team chemistry is just as important as the points on the scoreboard.
McGarry said part of that chemistry is that his team must be ready to adapt for the test ahead of them and for the next man to be ready to step up and play.
Team chemistry is a balance of emotion and strength combined with everybody’s contribution and talents creates harmony.
If a player is having trouble on the floor, it might be a word of encouragement from a teammate that is all that is required to turn something going wrong into something done right.
It might be simple — a star player encouraging all of his teammates on the court to help a teammate up off the floor.
Springstead players take pride in each others’ accomplishments out on the floor during the game but it is the togetherness that is evident during practice. Pushing each other hard not only to make themselves a better player but to make the team that much better.
“This group really cares for each other,” McGarry said. “They care for each other and that is why we can do what we do because they really care about each other.”
As the time was slipping away from the Eagles late in the fourth quarter, the ball was in the hands of senior post player David Battle. He went toward the basket and what looked like a good dunk of the ball for two points for the Eagles, was whistled away into a memory.
The call from the referee was not to confirm the basket but instead he called a charging foul on Battle, the basket was disallowed and that call sealed the win for the Wildcats.
McGarry, who was standing in front of his bench, staring at the referee, was a little upset. He asked for an explanation of the call but the referee just ran by the Eagle’s bench and did not stop to answer the question.
After the game, McGarry expressed his disappointment in the call and said the referee crew should’ve let the players dictate the outcome of the game.
Springstead High School will continue the 2019-20 state of Florida basketball season Wednesday night, Jan. 8, with a road trip to Land O’ Lakes High School to face the holiday tournament tested Gators in a 5A-6 District game. The varsity tip off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
The sting of the defeat will hurt for a little while for the Eagles, but the team chemistry that these players possess made this set back just a part of ancient history.
5th Annual Greg O’Connell Springstead New Year Shoot Out Results
1. ANCLOTE HIGH SCHOOL
2. Trinity Catholic High School
3. Wesley Chapel High School
4. Springstead High School
5. Grace Baptist Academy
6. Central High School
7. Brooks DeBartolo Academy
8. Gulf High School