Sports

No time a'wasting for Trojans

One thing a team doesn’t have to worry about following a 2-18 season is pressure.

So after the Olympic boys basketball team did just that a year ago, it felt just fine in disposing of Auburn Riverside in the team’s opener Tuesday, winning at home 42-34.

“I’m extremely confident in this bunch of guys,” Olympic coach Tyson Whitfield, in his second season, said. “I’m glad that nobody expects anything from us, besides ourselves. We can just go out and play ball with absolutely no pressure.”

That worked well in the opener, as Olympic scored 27 second-half points to earn the win, committing just four turnovers in the process.

“Starting off the season is much better than the way we started off last year,” Whitfield said. “I think coming into the season our confidence level and familiarity with each other is much better also.”

With Rodney Jones, Justin Turner, Chris Maclaren and Xavier Mancha as the team’s key returners, the club will also expect solid play from Richard Smith, Ryan Neal, Sean Joyner, Rashad Greene, Marc Valencia and others.

And while Turner, considered one of the league’s best shooters, will shoulder the bulk of the load, players like Jones proved Oly is much more well-rounded. Jones scored 19 points with 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals. Turner finished with 12 for Oly.

“Rodney Jones had a excellent game,” Whitfield said. “Justin Turner had an off night so it was key that Rodney took over the game when he did. Without that, I doubt we would’ve won.”

And while the low turnover totals were nice (turnovers plagued the Trojans last season), Whitfield said Oly will need to go up against a more high-pressure defense before being too pleased.

“First off Auburn Riverside didn’t press us, so that helped to keep our turnover numbers down,” he said. “But confidence with the basketball and guys knowing their spots and actually getting there have helped us out tremendously.”

Whitfield said the team has only been improving since last season, with most of the team playing summer ball for Westside Hoops or Total Package. Olympic also participated in the Sports beyond Fall League, falling to Bremerton in the championship. All that has brought the team closer together and made them smarter ball players, Whitfield said.

“All of this has definitely helped us in bonding and becoming a much closer team,” he said. “This year’s team is a much smarter basketball club. We’re not as physical, but we are more skilled and are better at picking our spots when to push the ball and when to slow it up and get a good shot.”

While the win definitely gave Olympic a confidence boost, Whitfield said the team has been more confident all along.

“The confidence level this year is very high right now,” he said. “I told the guys at halftime, ‘We’re only down by three and are probably shooting 20 percent from the floor if that.’ Once they realized that they were still in the game, and we started hitting shots, we were able to pull away a little bit.”

And while the early victory is nice, Whitfield said his team realizes there’s still a lot of season.

“Well we’re not completely turned around yet, we still have won only one ball game so far, so we still have a ways to go before we can say we’ve proved anyone wrong,” Whitfield said. “I’ll let our play on the floor speak for itself and let everyone else think and say what they want.”

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