Playing as a unit
Chase basketball head coach Joe Jessen doesn’t even have enough players to run a full scrimmage. But with just nine players the Trojans have collected a 6-2 overall record.
Thursday they’re set to face-off against Australian B, a team that handed Chase one of their two loses, in the first round of the Bud Black/Dennis Tate Holiday Classic at 2:30 p.m.
“We’re coming off of two losses so it’s important for us to get back on the winning track and get a couple wins in this tournament,” said Jessen. “It’s become some pretty good competition in this tournament. Hopefully we can get a couple wins, that’s my goal. We play three games so I at least want to leave with two wins. Of course I want to win, but if we end up with two wins I think I’ll be happy with that.”
With such a small roster, the Trojans are limited in the style of basketball that they can play, especially with the lack of elite talent.
“My guys are playing well together which is key because we don’t have a superstar or a bunch of great athletes,” Jessen said. “We have to play together as a unit. We’ve been competitive with every team this year because we know our limitations and what we aren’t good at doing. We have to play smart.”
The Trojans have gotten strong post play by both Steven Holland and Caleb Lancaster.
“I’m really hoping my big guys can step up. Steven Holland has been playing really well and Caleb Lancaster has been great off of the bench,” Jessen said. “If I can get 12-15 points out of each of those guys and even Tray Watkins, we’ll be alright.”
Even with the strong post-play the Trojans have gotten, point guard Shad Blanton leads the team scoring just under 20 points per game.
“Shad hasn’t been shooting the ball too great that last few games but I’m sure that will come back to him,” Jessen said about his sharp-shooting guard.
Another Trojan guard, Tyrell Boykins, is battling a knee injury that he suffered last week in a loss against R-S Central. Wednesday’s practice will tell a lot about Boykins’ availability throughout the tournament.
“Tyrell is doing a lot better; I think it may have just been a sprain,” Jessen said. “He’s a big piece to our puzzle. He’s our stabilizer. He doesn’t try to do too much and just plays within the system. We need him healthy and on the floor.”
If the Trojans win against Australia B and Thomas Jefferson wins against the hosting Cherryville Ironmen, Jessen will be facing his predecessor at Chase in Ken Hines who currently coaches the Gryphons. The possibility of playing against a former member of the Chase staff means little to Jessen.
“I just look at every game the same,” Jessen said. “I worked with Coach Hines for a long time and we’re pretty close. It would be fun to play against him but I just look at it as another game I’m trying to win.”
The Trojans tipoff with Australian B tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. in Cherryville.