Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

Local Sports

February 6, 2014

Rams hope to get back on winning track today at home against Castleberry

By TONY EIERDAM

Trying to stop a two-game losing streak, the Mineral Wells Rams will host Castleberry at 8 p.m. today as District 6-3A action continues at the MWHS gym.

With the girls’ district season completed all three MWHS boys’ games will be played on the main court. The freshman game will begin at 5 p.m. followed by the junior varsity game at 6:30 p.m.

The Rams are trying to get back into a tie with Springtown for second place in the district standings. A win against the Lions today coupled with a Springtown loss to Kennedale would put the Rams and Springtown in a tie for second place.

While it is likely state-ranked No. 2 Kennedale will prevail today, the Rams are not taking the Lions lightly, especially considering what happened when the two teams faced each other Jan. 21 at Castleberry.

In that game, Castleberry hit its first five three-pointers and scored 27 points in the opening quarter. The Lions held a 29-point lead in the third period and went into the fourth quarter with a 21-point cushion.

Incredibly, the Rams came back – thanks to a urgent full-court defense that created turnovers –  to score 32 in the final stanza to come away with a three-point victory.

Since then, even in the past two losses to Springtown and Kennedale, the Rams have jumped out to quick leads in the opening period.

The Rams led 20-14 after the first quarter a week ago at Springtown, and on Tuesday, MWHS had a 19-17 lead over Kennedale after eight minutes. It was the second half of both games that led to the losses.

“We obviously want to get out to a better start then we did the last time we played them,” Rams head coach Aaron Papas said. “We will need to play with the same intensity that we did in the second half when we played them.

“We want to match up with them man to man and pressure the guy with the ball. Castleberry shoots the three well, so we will challenge them on the perimeter and make them put the ball on the floor and go to the basket.”

The Rams have always been a good shooting team from the outside with leading scorer Biren Clardy and Nick Wendt, two shooting guards, and point guard Dexter Cross has also shown that he can hit the three when needed.

But MWHS is also starting to play a solid inside game with sophomore post Broderick Johnson, junior post Juvaree Sutton and forward Rascellis Williams providing scoring in the paint of late.

Pappas said he needs inside scoring or teams will focus on guarding the Rams on the perimeter.

“We have two guys who do all the scoring,” Pappas said. “If we don’t get some others stepping up and scoring we are going to be in trouble because teams will focus on Biren and Nick.”

Pappas said Castleberry has gotten his team’s attention after the close contest last month.

“I think our guys will get off to a better start this time,” Pappas said. “This is a must win for us, and we feel we have to win out to stay in a tie with Springtown (if Springtown gets beat by Kennedale) for second place and set up a tiebreaker game.”

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