NIXON — The Mustangs dug a hole too deep to get out of in their 54-24 home loss against the McMullen County Cowboys on Tuesday, Dec. 18.
“Unfortunately, it’s what’s been our issue all along, we have a difficult time putting the ball in the basket,” Mustangs Head Coach Carlton McKinney said. “We put ourselves in such a hole because we struggle right now scoring. We try to speed up tempo to get some easy opportunities, when that didn’t work for us, we rely heavy on our individual skills offensively.”
The Mustangs opened with a three, but then gave up a 21-0 run before finally scoring another basket. The quarter ended 24-8 in favor of McMullen County.
“We have some kids that shoot the ball decent but the last 8-10 games we haven’t been able to put balls in the basket,” McKinney added. “When that happens it really puts a lot of pressure on us defensively and with our size, it’s tough. When we get ourselves down, I thought we had some good moments, we had some good stretches, but when you’re down 20-25 early it’s tough battling back when you’re not consistently scoring the basketball. Until we can get over that hump, we’re going to have games like this, unfortunately.”
Some good stretches included a 9-2 run where the Mustangs were able to find the open man down low with their offensive sets. McMullen County would end the third quarter on a 7-0 run and later outscored Nixon-Smiley 10-7 in the fourth quarter.
“We have some young, inexperienced players, so the problem is, when we can really spend time with them and I can have time and kind of go over what we want to do, they do a really good job, they’re focused and they’re into it,” McKinney explained. “Anything that changes that vernacular of what we’re doing, it kind of gets them off kilter then boom, we fall back into doing what’s comfortable to them.”
The Mustangs have some time before district starts. In the last realignment, Nixon-Smiley was forced to take on the stacked eight-team district before the Christmas break. Now, they have some extra weeks to work as their six-team district schedule begins after the break.
“I think [the extra weeks] are ideal for us,” McKinney said. “With the eight-team district we started before Christmas break, so those games are critical. Most teams, whoever they are, are going to be different after Christmas, so for us, it really sets up well because it gives us some extra time to prepare and get us ready and we took some of the heavy hitters out of the last district. We don’t have the Hallettsvilles anymore, the Randolphs or the Marions in there. It gives us a fighting chance. If we can get the minor kinks worked out and play at a place and play controlled basketball the way we want to play it, it gives us a chance and all we can ask for is a chance. I like this group, they’re young, they make some mistakes, but they try to do what we ask them to do so they’re coachable kids, just for us, figure out a way to put the ball in the basket and give us a chance.”
Nixon-Smiley takes on the Lytle Tournament this weekend.