By TONY EIERDAM
Sometimes it takes a high school basketball coach several games of non-district play to find the players who work well together, set rotations and establish a defensive philosophy.
For the Mineral Wells Rams, who will begin District 6-3A play today at home against the Fort Worth Diamond Hill Eagles, they found their “defensive identity” in the final non-district game last week.
The Rams and Lady Rams will play the first district doubleheader of the season today at the MWHS gym.
The Lady Rams and Lady Eagles will tip off at 6:30 p.m. today followed by the Rams/Eagles contest at approximately 8 p.m. at the MWHS gym.
The Rams will bring a 9-7 record into the contest.
Head coach Aaron Pappas said last week’s win in the non-district finale over Bridgeport gave the Rams confidence on both ends of the floor, but it was a commitment to a man-to-man defense for the entire game that helped the team defensively, which led to instant offense.
“The team is playing really well now on both ends of the floor,”Pappas said.”We have been searching for an identity defensively, and (against Bridgeport) we stuck with what we thought was going to be our defense at the beginning of the year.
“This makes me very excited, and I feel overall, from top to bottom, offensively and defensively. Offensively we are scoring at a higher pace.
“We are scoring from the perimeter as well as the paint and are being more physical on the defensive end and contesting every shot.
“But I thought (against Bridgeport) we played the best defense by far as we have all year.
“We played our half-court man the entire game, and we didn’t have to switch to a zone.
“We didn’t have to press, it was just bread-and-butter man-to-man defense.