NORTH ROBINSON – Neither Wynford nor Colonel Crawford could have asked for a better start to their basketball seasons.
Through the first few weeks of the 2014-15 campaign, the two longtime rivals have compiled undefeated records and will put them on the line Friday night at Colonel Crawford High School.
On top of that, neither shows any signs of slowing down — literally.
“The one thing Wynford has been very good at the first couple game is they’ve really pushed the ball,” Colonel Crawford coach David Sheldon said. “They’re very good in transition, and they’ve got several shooters.”
In its first two games, Wynford (2-0, 1-0 Northern 10 Conference) has been lights out from long distance and is shooting nearly 49 percent from beyond the arc — more than 10 percent higher than the next team in the N10.
Although it’s hard to argue with the results, Wynford coach Mark DeLaney doesn’t want his team to get “in a hole” because they are settling for jumpers.
“I like to be able to spread the floor a little bit,” DeLaney said. “But at the same time, to be a great team, you have to be able to play all different types of tempos.
“You have to be able to run a set when it’s necessary, so it’s important to be able to do multiple things at multiple speeds because there are going to be times Friday night where Crawford has the tempo, and we’re going to have to play their game.”
As a team, the Royals are shooting 47 percent from the floor and are averaging 83.5 points per game. They are led in scoring by juniors Alex Crall and Braxton Tea.
“Those two guards, you can’t pressure them because they are good enough with the basketball and fast enough that they can get around you,” DeLaney said. “At the same time, you can’t lay off on them because they’re such great shooters.”
Crall has made seven 3-pointers and is averaging 22.5 points per game for Wynford, while Tea is adding 15.5 points and 3.5 assists per game. Both are shooting more than 40 percent from behind the 3-point line.
“We try to get them to play in space and just have them read the defense, read the gaps and try to make the appropriate decision using the concept that the defense is always wrong,” DeLaney said.
Conversely, Colonel Crawford (4-0, 1-0) is allowing only 35.5 points per game and has forced 74 turnovers, which is good for 18.5 per game. Furthermore, despite lacking size in the paint, the Eagles are outrebounding opponents 112-95.
“Our kids buy into defense, and that’s something we’ve always prided ourselves with — how we guard people night in and night out,” Sheldon said. “But we will have a challenge with Wynford’s offensive powers.”
On offense, the Eagles are scoring nearly 60 points per game and are knocking down 44 percent of their shots. Todd Entenmann paces Colonel Crawford with 20.8 points, seven rebounds and three steals per game. He is shooting 47 percent from the 3-point line and has 83 total points. Following him up is Owen Adams, who is giving the Eagles 13 points per game.
Both players could be a potential problem for Wynford, which has given up 153 points in its two games.
“From a defensive standpoint, we haven’t been as consistent as I would like,” DeLaney said. “I know this is all new for them, but being able to play at 84 or 94 feet, pressure the basketball and do it the whole time is extremely hard.”
The other challenge for Wynford, according to DeLaney, will be keeping focused in the tough environment.
“They have a great student section, so just being able to handle the emotion, the highs and lows, being able to communicate when it’s really loud and focusing when things maybe don’t go our way,” DeLaney said. “This game is so emotional for both sides because it is such a huge rivalry, so it’s going to be about which team can is going to be able to be even, not get too high and not get too low emotionally and focus on the task at hand.”
While the environment is something his team is used to, Sheldon said Wynford always brings a good crowd, as well.
“It’s two great communities, and it’s been a rivalry for a long time,” Sheldon said. “We’re just looking forward to a great atmosphere Friday night in North Robinson.”