Shooting woes and more give this college’s Rangers a reason to refocus.
By E. David Guel
In an exhibition game that almost wasn’t, two Rangers teams competed in what became an easy win of 89-72 for the Fort Sam Houston team Oct. 14 in Gym 1 of Candler Physical Education Center.
With last Wednesday’s 84-70 loss against the Southwest Texas Junior College Cowboys, this college’s Rangers remain at an 0-1 record, excluding this game.
According to Rangers coach Louis Martinez, the Lackland Warhawks were scheduled to play, but they canceled the day of Wednesday’s game for rest after a busy schedule.
Martinez and Fort Sam Houston coach Calvin Conliffe arranged the game hours before tip-off.
In the first three minutes of play, Fort Sam Houston guard Casey Wilder scored 6 points to propel his team to a double-digit lead and the team stayed ahead for the rest of the night.
Wilder finished the night with a team high of 16 points.
Conliffe said solid post-play by 6’8” center Meshon Lewis, who contributed 11 points and more than 10 rebounds, helped keep his team on top.
“There was no height to contend with him. He’s a veteran player; once he gets the ball down low, he knows what to do.”
Midway through the first half with a score of 26-18, shooting struggles and lack of aggressiveness were apparent to Martinez.
The team shot less than 30 percent from the field.
“We’re getting good looks — we’re just not hitting them,” Martinez said to his players during a timeout with about nine minutes remaining in the first half.
Although short-lived, this college’s Rangers came out refocused and reenergized at the start of the second half.
Sparked by real estate freshman Ricky Myers with a steal leading to a 3-pointer by kinesiology sophomore Cody Hastings, the team soon willed itself within striking distance 44-42 at the 16-minute mark.
Hastings and Myers finished with 11 and 9 points, respectively.
In response, Fort Sam Houston tightened up its offensive rotations and targeted opposing weaker ball-handlers on defense to cement their lead for the rest of the game.
“If we would have made half of our shots, we probably would have been in the game,” Martinez said. “It was one of those days where we just couldn’t hit a shot … and if we can’t do that then we have to pick up our defense.”
Despite the near 20-point defeat, Martinez encouraged his players to learn from the loss early in the season, remain focused and build on their skills until playoffs at the end of next semester.
“It’s something that I’ve been telling these guys for a while, that they need to play tough. It’s actually better for us to get beat up now … to get better for the playoffs when it really does matter.”
Ranger Steven Walters, criminal justice freshman, says he has to “hit the weight room,” focus boxing out and rebounding in the post, and play smarter for future games.
“I have to balance finding out how to play hard and smart at the same time so I can stay in the game and help my team.”
Walters and teammates look to seize their first win of the season against the Cardinals 8 p.m. Oct. 21 in the Wellness Center at the University of the Incarnate Word.