SSMBB Midseason Update

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PHOTO BY JERRY BALLAS/ FOR THE OBSERVER

By Harrison Tarr
For the Observer

For the first 14 games of the 2021-22 season, the Smiths Station men’s basketball team was on a warpath.

The Panthers found themselves on the winning end of 12 games and were positioning themselves to make another deep run in this year’s installment of the AHSAA playoffs; since then, the silver and black has taken a turn in the opposite direction.

Head coach Steven Davis’ team has stumbled its way through the past five contests, losing four in dramatic one-score fashion and receiving a thorough beatdown at the hands of Charles Henderson.

“They’ve all been close,” Davis said. “No doubt about that. I think we play slow to start the game out with or we’ll make a mistake down the stretch.”

According to Davis, the trend of slow starts can be accredited to the Panthers’ inability to play their best brand of defense in the first half of contests.

“I think we close the games out pretty good defensively,” Davis said. “It’s like we’re serving ourselves. We just need to play in the first and second quarter defensively and I think we’ll be in better situations in the fourth.”

Playing solid defense across all four quarters will likely serve beneficial to the Panthers as the group has also struggled with preventing turnovers in late-game situations.

“Turnovers,” Davis said. “We’ve had a couple of turnovers in the fourth quarter where we might have been up one. We were up one then gave up a bucket.”

Between lapses in defending and poor ball management in the latter portions of contests, the silver and black has a wide range of issues it needs to clean up; Davis is hopeful that a return to Smiths Station will provide the squad with a positive environment to do so.

“We haven’t played at home in seven games either,” Davis said. “We’re trying to get comfortable playing on the road. We won our last three home games, we’ve just been on the road our last six games.”

Despite watching the team lose five straight, there is still a silver lining for fans of Smiths Station basketball: the hometown Panthers have suffered just one catastrophic defeat to this point.

“We don’t get in a situation we can’t overcome,” Davis said. “All of them have been close, we’ve been competitive. We feel good about going into the area play.”

As the group embarks on its schedule of area opponents, Davis will look to his pair of standout forwards — Tre-Quan Turner and Dadrevius Weathers — to continue posting the numbers the duo has grown accustomed to manufacturing; he also looks forward to seeing the continual progression of Trevon Taylor.

“A lot of offense is ran through both of those guys,” Davis said. “Trevon Taylor stepped up in a lot of games. In the last six games he probably had three 20-point games or more. He stepped up as well.”

Between the sustained production from his backcourt and the visible improvement from the likes of Taylor and senior forward Ahmari Peabody, Davis is optimistic about the Panthers’ abilities to correct the course and make a deep run in the playoffs.

“I’d rather go 4-26 than 26-4,” Davis said. “We’ve got to focus on the games we’ve got to win. We’re still good for a late season run. You don’t win all the games up front and not have a chance to win.”

Smiths Station will return home for an out-of-region matchup with nearby foe Beauregard on Friday, Jan. 14. Tipoff between the Panthers and the Hornets is set for 6:30 p.m. CST.

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