Parkland’s junior varsity basketball team used the latter days of December to get a head start on a New Year’s resolution to turn their season around. The Mustangs lost their first nine games of the season. But over the holidays, they managed to put together back-to-back wins in tournament play.
Entering its Jan. 4 home game against East Forsyth (6:30 p.m. tip-off), Parkland has a two-game winning streak going. The Mustangs topped North Forsyth 57-39 in a consolation game of the Lash-Chronicle Classic. A week later, Parkland posted a 46-39 win over Starmount in the North Surry JV Christmas Tournament.
[pullquote]After a month-and-a-half, our guys finally got a taste of what winning is like..[/pullquote]“After a month-and-a-half, our guys finally got a taste of what winning is like,” said Coach Shawn Smoot. “They’re learning how to get past the third quarter and finish strong. We’re doing a much better job of keeping our composure. These last two games are proof that they can compete and win.”
Prior to ending its winless streak, Parkland showed signs of promise in an opening-round loss to West Forsyth (61-53) in the Lash-Chronicle Classic. The Mustangs held a 10-point lead midway through the third quarter, but the combination of foul trouble, rushed shots and turnovers conspired to assure them of another loss. West Forsyth ended up as tournament champions.
“Our players know deep down that we had that game and should’ve won it,” said Smoot. “It’s possible that we could have been in that championship game. But losing to West the way we did really helped us. Now they know how important it is to make good passes and box-out for rebounds.”
Combo guard Jevon Powell, who averages team-high 17 points a game, is the prime factor for Parkland. Powell has the basketball IQ to run the team at point guard. But he’s even more potent as a shooting guard who’s equally skilled as a penetrator and outside shooter.
“It’s no secret that Jevon sets the tone for us,” said Smoot. “This team feeds off him.”
The Mustangs are well-suited for an up-tempo style with Powell, Ronald Santiago and Brian Leak pushing the ball up-court to facilitate fast-break scoring opportunities. In the paint, Demonta Hardin and Andrew Davis are tenacious defenders and rebounders who figure to increase their offensive output as the season progresses.
“We’re not close to being the team I believe we can be,” said Smoot. “It’s still coming together. Every practice and every game is another learning experience. Our guys are showing that they have a better understanding of their individual roles. Now they have the mindset that they won’t be losing any more.”