Cleburne Times-Review, Cleburne, TX

Sports

January 17, 2014

Jackets aiming to end losing skid in "must-win" game

CLEBURNE — If the Cleburne Yellow Jackets are to make a serious push at a playoff berth, a win over Waco University tonight would be a big step in the right direction.

Cleburne has lost its previous three games to fall to 2-4, tied with Waco University for fifth in District 8-4A.

Tonight’s games mark the end of the first round of league play across District 8-4A, and with four teams ahead of the Jackets in the district standings, and all four teams currently owning the tiebreaker over Cleburne, it’s getting down to the nitty gritty.

“This game is very big,” Cleburne Coach Ed King said. “If we want to stay in the playoff conversation, we have to win this game. I’m pretty sure Waco University’s coach is telling them the same thing. It’s a must-win game for both teams, no doubt.”

The Trojans present Cleburne with similar challenges that Waco High, Everman and Crowley present, most notably athleticism.

“They’re athletic,” King said. “They’re a good offensive rebounding team. Jordan Evans is a really good player who can shoot it or put it on the floor. He’s their leading scorer. Outside of that, they’re just really athletic and get a lot of their points off offensive rebounds. They try to make teams turn it over with their press. So we have to make sure we take care of the ball and beat the press.

“It’s going to be a lot like Waco High and Crowley; take care of the ball, box out to limit their shots, and, of course, we have to make shots on our end. If we do those things, we should be OK.”

In the first round of district play, Cleburne dropped winnable contests against Waco High, Burleson Centennial and Crowley — three of the four teams ahead of Cleburne. Each of those three games were within striking distance for Cleburne in the fourth quarter, but the Jackets were unable to get over the hump, losing all three by an average of 8 points per game.

King said the reasons Cleburne lost those three close games are due to simple mistakes that he deemed fixable.

“We watch film and look at some of the mistakes we made and correct those in practice,” King said. “We’ll maybe tweak a few things and maybe make a few adjustments. Against Waco High, we just didn’t shoot the ball very well. Marc Murillo, by himself, went 2-of-12 right around the basket. If that doesn’t happen again with him, we’ll be fine.

“Against Centennial, Preston Vassar hit some big 3’s, and he’s not known for hitting the 3’s he hit against us. We’ll do a better job against him the next time and contest those 3’s instead of him getting wide open looks. Against Crowley, we fought back to get in the game, and down the stretch, when the game was tied, we missed a couple of big shots and we had a turnover that was critical.”

King said if the Jackets can continue to play with the same effort level, but cut down on the self-inflicted mistakes, they can get things turned around in time to make a run at a playoff berth.

“I really believe those are all things we can correct, and our guys are able to see it on film the next day,” King said. “If we can correct things like that, we can go out in this second half and be prepared to get a win.”

Cleburne’s two wins in district play have come against the bottom two teams in the district, Burleson and Joshua, who are a combined 1-11. The Jackets won both of those games by a combined five points.

Cleburne and Waco University are set for a 6:30 p.m. tipoff.

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