Ryan Jones knew prior to the high school basketball season that he along with his brother Robert Brandon and fellow Siegel teammate Charles Clark must improve their game and be leaders in the score book.
The reasons were simple.
Several of Jones’ teammates were getting a late start to the basketball season after the school’s long football postseason run. That left underclassmen in their place.
Plus, Jones had replaced former point guard Treyton Harris in the starting lineup after Harris graduated.
Thus far, the three Stars have lived up to that induced pressure. They have been leaders to the younger players, and helped the football players adjust to basketball with their play.
And with things back to normal, the trio isn’t cooling off.
The trio have formed the best scoring punch in District 7-AAA, and enter tonight’s league contest with second-ranked Blackman (17-0 overall, 3-0 in 7-AAA) on a 12-game win streak.
Tipoff is set for after the girls game, which starts at 6 p.m. at Siegel.
“The football guys are older, but the other guys were sophomores,” Jones said. “They were having to get used to how we play. They were getting used to it, but they weren’t quite ready. So we helped get them ready.”
In doing so, they showed the rest of Rutherford County that the fifth-ranked Stars (18-1, 3-0) are back to being a legitimate District 7-AAA contender.
Brandon, a senior, leads 7-AAA with 19.3 points a game, Clark averages 16.3 and Jones scores 12.6. No other boys team has a trio scoring that much this season.
“We just shoot the open shot, or find the open man,” Brandon said. “It’s mainly us most times, but that’s not on purpose.”
Siegel leads the La Vergne trio of Charles Sutton (16.4 ppg), Marquis Johns (14.8 ppg) and Isaiah Reese (10.1 ppg) by nearly seven points a game. It leads Blackman’s trio of Darius Thompson (14.4 ppg), Quindell Cousin (11.3 ppg) and Justin Coleman (8.8) by nearly 14 points a game.
Siegel coach Ben Dotson said relying on his scoring trio early was important.
“I think we jumped on their back more than we leaned on them,” Dotson said. “These guys have played together. They’ve all grown up playing together. They’ve got experience. It was natural that they took to each other.
“When the football team guys came back, it just seems like everything has clicked since then.”
Siegel’s fast start coincides with its dominating full-court press, which has given opponents fits at times. Full-court pressure is nothing new to Siegel. However, Dotson admits the intensity is up from a year ago thanks to a year of familiarity.
Siegel is forcing 20.1 turnovers a game this season. The Stars’ pressure defense were key assets to their wins over Oakland and Riverdale this past week.
“From the season we had last year, we’re more hungry this year,” Brandon admitted.
That hunger comes a year after failing to reach both the District 7-AAA and Region 4-AAA championship games. It marked the first time the Stars hadn’t played in a Class AAA sectional since the 2008-09 season.
“Last year we had a great December run, and first couple run, then we fell off,” Dotson said. “I think we peaked too early. The guys have bought in to what we’re doing. We want them to just take it a game at a time.
“We looked ahead. We were still riding high after being district champs from (former players) Cedrick (Williams) and Stephen (Hurt). We had a little chip on our shoulders. We were humbled last year. This year, we’re just focusing on one game at a time and every minute that we’re in the game.”