Barry Wortman has a simple explanation to explain his Blackman boys basketball team’s third-quarter success.
In one word: Depth.
Top-ranked Blackman (20-0 overall, 6-0 in District 7-AAA) has outscored its past three district opponents — Riverdale, Siegel and La Vergne — a combined 80-12 in the third quarter en route to winning all three games in dominating fashion.
That success has come on the heels of a structured substitution pattern that allows his team to be well rested for a second-half surge.
“I think it’s just our depth,” Wortman said. “We’re a deep basketball team. We can overcome fatigue or foul troubles. I think our depth, when we get in the third quarter, is a big asset.”
Wortman said he plays as many as nine players in the first half in an effort to limit fatigue and use his deep bench to its fullest potential.
“We have a substitution pattern, where we want to play our top nine guys,” Wortman said. “We want to use our depth in the first half, and hope it pays off in the second half.
It has paid off, especially over the past three District 7-AAA games. Blackman has outscored its district opponents 133-50 in the third quarter through six games this season.
* Blackman led Riverdale 20-18 at halftime on Jan. 18 before outscoring the Warriors 23-3 in the third quarter to cruise to a 60-33 win.
* Blackman led Siegel 37-27 at halftime on Jan. 22, but outscored the Stars 33-5 in the third quarter to rout them 86-42.
* Blackman led La Vergne 27-25 at halftime this past Friday, but outscored the Wolverines 24-4 in the third quarter to whip them 72-41.
Wortman said in all three games the coaching staff made virtually no halftime adjustments to explain the dominant third quarter.
Blackman senior post player Josh Maher said halftime speeches have centered around intensity.
“Our coaches push us harder to pull away in the third quarter,” Maher said. “During halftime, we focus more on intensity.”
Wortman generally substitutes sophomore Jauan Jennings for guard Alec McMiller, and Andrew Rogan comes in for K.J. Dowdy. Maher comes in for one of the Blaze big men, either Quindell Cousin or Justin Coleman.
“Nothing is really set,” Wortman said. “They are all in the rotation and playing quality minutes. They all known they are going to get in.”
Dowdy said the team has bought into the substitution pattern. They are OK with playing less minutes than perhaps other starters in the league because of their goal.
“We’ve all bought into it,” Dowdy said. “Our goal is to get to one place, and that’s the state championship game. We’ve sacrificed playing time. Whatever we’ve got to do to get there, we’ll do it.”
Maher said knowing each player’s time on the court may be limited helps give 100 percent all of the time.
“When we’re in the game, we have to be focused on what we’re doing,” Maher said. “We have to use our minutes to its fullest.”