By TONY EIERDAM
Mineral Wells Rams head basketball coach Aaron Pappas said he has been trying to seek a defensive identity for his team all season long.
The Rams have shown their fans every type of defense known to basketball including zones, zone presses, man-to-man presses, half-court presses and the like.
But Pappas finally found what he was seeking Friday night during the Rams’ convincing 65-42 victory over Bridgeport in the non-district finale at the MWHS gym.
The Rams (9-7) will begin District 6-3A play Friday at 8 p.m. at home against Fort Worth Diamond Hill.
“We have been searching for an identity defensively, and (Friday) we stuck with what we thought was going to be our defense at the beginning of the year,” Pappas said. “Leading up to this game we had played all types of zone defenses and presses.
“But it is good to know that we can play a well-coached offensive team like Bridgeport and play them man to man and shut them down and hold them to 42 points.
“This makes me very excited, and I feel overall, from top to bottom, offensively and defensively, this was our best game.”
The defense opened up the outside for the Rams, and in the second half shooting guards Biren Clardy and Nick Wendt took advantage.
With the scored tied 25-25 early in the third period, Clardy went off. He nailed back-to-back three-pointers from the left perimeter, and after a Juvaree Sutton layup, Clardy struck again from three-point land, this time from the right side as the Rams’ lead grew to 38-28.
It was Wendt’s turn in the fourth period.
With Bridgeport adding extra attention to Clardy, Wendt was left wide open on the perimeter.
He canned a short jumper and followed with a trey from the right perimeter that extended the Rams’ lead to 49-36.
Wendt helped to increase the lead to 55-38 after hitting another three, then canning three consecutive free throws after being fouled beyond the arc.