Yellowjacket inside defense helps secure win over Rains

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The Mineola Yellowjackets may have just defined their identity as a basketball team. In the course of their 67-52 win over Rains, the Yellowjackets demonstrated many excellent team qualities. On Jan. 28 one thing was different: they challenged every single shot attempt around the basket.   

In fact, the combined strength of Wiley Franks, Dawson Pendergrass, Kaleb Griffin and Colt Marlow was of such impact that it altered the opponent’s shot attempts all night. The lane belonged to Mineola.     

The Yellowjackets have been a guard-led team all year. The combination of Jonah Fischer and T.J. Moreland has consistently fueled their attack. Winger Kelby Bruner has contributed timely and steady production as well. The inside game, however, was inconsistent.

Once again Fischer and Moreland led the Yellowjackets with 15 and 19 points, respectively. Bruner also pitched in 8 points. The difference last Tuesday was the fervor with which the Mineola post players defended and attacked. If this aggressive manner of play continues, the Yellowjackets will be hard to handle come playoff time.

Strong inside play will open shots for the outside shooters and lanes for the wingers. On the defensive side, having to alter a short shot or a drive is often the difference between it falling through the net or glancing off the rim. If the Jacket big men can continue to present this strong presence, the Jackets’ run in 2020 will be worth watching. 

The victory over Rains was not a result of the Mineola press. The Wildcats did a fair job of breaking the press and getting decent shots as a result. The difference between the sides was the competitiveness of the inside game. 

Mineola started fast and led 21-8 at the end of the first quarter. Rains rallied to close within 10, but the Yellowjackets finished the first half on an 11-5 run and led 37-21. 

Both sides scored at pace in a fluidly-played second half. Mineola played without a gap in scoring or defending, and maintained the advantage throughout.

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