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Trojan boys come up short
"Robert Polk has completely changed the style of his Olympic High School boys basketball team from years past, teaching the Trojans how to be more free with their running, their shooting and their hustling defense.But Polk can't teach the Trojans to be 6-foot-8, like North Kitsap's Bryan Haupt. And he can't teach anybody to be Marc McNall.When the two teams played last Friday, Dec. 15, the Vikings leaned on Haupt early and their All-Everything guard McNall down the stretch. And they didn't wilt under the pressure of Olympic's fast-paced, full-court attack and defense, allowing them to come away with an 86-69 Olympic League victory on the Trojans' home floor.They hurt us inside, said Polk. We blocked out well, but it's hard to get the ball if they're a foot taller. We'd get good position and their guys would just reach right over the top.That's liable to happen a lot this season to the Trojans, whose tallest players are just 6-2. So Polk has revved up his team's attack, trying to make up for the lack of height with the quickness of Casey Manchester and the outside shooting of Geoff Kelstrup.For a while, it was successful against the Vikings. Mostly by dropping six 3-point baskets, Troy offset Haupt's inside presence and let 39-35 at halftime.In the locker room, the Vikings had a little man-to-man about defense, said coach Bob Fronk.We had wanted to play a zone to stay out of foul trouble, but they're too good a group of shooters, said Fronk, who is 3-0 on Oly's floor in his tenure as North's coach. I wanted to make it a two-point game. They're a happy bunch when they're shooting 3-pointers, and I wanted to take them out of their comfort zone. So we said, let's go man.The adjustment worked. Though Oly knocked down four more treys in the second half, the more in-your-face defense of the Vikings made them work too hard to hold their lead.Troy's 13-for-26 night from the free throw line didn't help matters, either, keeping Polk's team from taking advantage of North's added defensive aggression.Our free throw shooting in the second half (when they were 6 for 17) was atrocious, Polk said. I don't think that's the reason we lost, but if we make half of what we missed, it's a lot closer ball game.After Haupt scored 14 of his 18 points in the first half to keep the Vikings within striking distance, McNall took control in the second half, when he scored all but two of his 23. His pull-up jumper 90 seconds in gave North its first lead of the second half, 41-39, and he had 10 points in the final 4 minutes, 45 seconds to help keep the Trojans at bay.Offensively, Fronk said, the Vikings did all right in the first half. With McNall taking control, they did better in the second.We had handled their press-break, which allowed us to get into our transition, Fronk said. But Marc had taken on more of a distribution role, and we needed him to get back to his game. He's pretty good at breaking down a defense.The Vikings didn't exactly get off to a dazzling start, falling behind 10-2 as Parsons canned a 3-pointer and Manchester reeled off seven straight, including another trey.But North's height advantage began to tell, as the Trojans' press was unable to stop the visitors in backcourt. Fronk's club tied the score at 12 on six inside buckets - four after offensive rebounds.NK really seized control near the end of the third quarter, capping a run of eight straight points with McNall's scoop layup for a 55-45 lead. Just before that, the 6-2 guard had dished to Thomas Jordan for a fastbreak layup. Only 3-pointers from Parsons (who hit five on the night) and Manchester (who totaled four) allowed Oly to stay as close as the 60-51 deficit that buzzed out the third quarter.It got as close as eight several times the rest of the way, but with McNall at the helm, the Vikings were able to weather anything Troy could throw at them.Polk credited McNall with picking apart Troy's press.He's a crafty player, Polk said. He split some traps and got into the open court, and when he gets there he makes good decisions. "