By A.J. Crispemail@example.com
Coming off a season in which Grandview just missed out on the playoffs by the slimmest of margins, the Zebras entered this year determined to redeem themselves. Through seven district games, Grandview sits at 6-1 in District 10-2A play with a chance at a district title, which would be the first since 2002.
“We’re happy that we’re playing well,” Grandview Coach Todd Jarrell said. “We’re disappointed we couldn’t get the win against Whitney the other night on our home court. We feel like we have more room to get better. ... We still feel like there’s a lot of room for improvement on our team.”
The Zebras (12-6 overall) entered their matchup with Whitney on Jan. 18 with identical 5-0 marks in district play, but the Wildcats prevailed 71-60. Grandview gets a shot at redemption against Whitney and possibly a chance at a district title when the two teams meet again in the final district game of the season on Feb. 12, but until then, the Zebras must continue its strong district play.
The Zebras’ success has come from consistent play on the defensive side, Jarrell said, and the experience of Stephen Stewart, Ryan Breton and La’Broyeah Jackson.
“I think we play pretty consistent defense as far as whether we’re playing a halfcourt or fullcourt defensive game,” Jarrell said. “We’re able to turn our opponents over and force them into mistakes which allows us easy baskets. Offensively, we shoot the ball very well. Not every night, but most nights we’re going to hit some 3-balls.
“Stephen Stewart, Ryan Breton and L. Jackson have been the core guys that have been here ever since their freshmen year and been in the system a long time. They do a good job of keeping us focused on the court.
“We’ve also gotten some help from Jamon Martinez. He comes off the bench and is a spark plug for us.”
Stewart has led the Zebras in scoring throughout disrtict play at 20 points per game while Breton is close behind at a little more than 18 points per game.
The Zebras, coming off a 53-29 win over Maypearl on Tuesday night, are set to host Rio Vista tonight, and Jarrell said he expects another tough challenge after Grandview recorded an 80-71 win over the Eagles on Jan. 3.
“Rio Vista’s really always a very scrappy team that plays hard,” he said. “I think everybody is trying to get healthy from all the different sicknesses that have been going around. We’re hoping that we have 12 guys show up to the game and are healthy and able to contribute during the game.
“I think if you take care of the ball and possess the ball against them, you always have a chance to do well. And then defensively, we have to do a better job this time of staying in front of their guys. They had a lot of penetration on us. We’ll need to do a better job of staying in front of them.”
For a team that has played less games than anyone else in their district due to the Grandview football team’s long postseason run, the Zebras are still improving, and Jarrell said he hopes the learning process continues.
“We hope that we have enough improvement over the next few games that we have a good chance when we play Whitney in their place to play for at least a share of the district championship,” he said. “We’d also like to make it deeper than we did two years ago in the playoffs [a regional quarterfinal appearance] and see what happens from there.”
Tipoff for Grandview’s home game against Rio Vista is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. tonight.