Tiger boys basketball team’s hard work paying off

SPORTSBEAT

The Howards Grove boys basketball team isn’t about the rest on its laurels.

The Tigers have wrapped up the first Big East Conference championship and are riding an eight-game winning streak but they have the mindset to continue working hard and trying to improve.

“Well it’s nice to have clinched part of history with the first Big East Conference regular-season title but we have a long way to go. Obviously this is one of our goals coming into the season but we have a number of other things on this list that we would like to accomplish,” said Tiger head coach Eric Worth whose team is 11-0 in the BEC and 13-3 overall.

“I think our guys are happy with the results thus far but theyaren’t satisfied with where they’re at. They understand what success is and it has everything to do with how they go about their daily work.”

In addition to a strong work ethic, theTigers’ success has been fueled by a balanced offense, a stingy defense and a deep bench.This team wears down opponents with a relentless, swarming defense and an up-tempo offense which can beat you in transition and in the half-court game.

“Our daily work helps with fueling the defense. I think we runour practices with high intensity and efficiency. This contributes to our overall conditioning which helps us get after it,”Worth pointed out.

“It helps being able to go deep into the bench because this allows us to keep the pressure on for all 36 minutes.

“I think we can play both ways [full-court and half-court ofense]. We have good length, strength and decent speed.This allows us to play whatever way we see fit,” said Worth who is in his third season at HGHS.

“I think we develop a good game plan coming into each game and having the versatility to switch it up, based on your opponents’ weaknesses really helps.”

The Tigers’ season is especially impressive, considering they lost all five starters to graduation off last year’s team which was the Central Lakeshore Conference co-champion and a Division 4 sectional finalist.

“I think it’s a testament to all the guys in the program and the work they put in on a daily basis.,” said the coach about the team’s success this season.

“It’s really easy for guys that don’t play a lot to go through the motions instead of focusing on getting better. All our guys have been committed to getting better and working hard because you never know when your next opportunity is going to come. This group has clearly demonstrated that.

I’ve been impressed with how well the Tigers work together on both ends of the court. The team is very unselfish and patient on offense which leads to good shots and a lot of players contributing with scoring and assists.

I asked Worth what have been the keys to his team’s success.

“Understanding we have a choice in everything we do. Somethingwe talk about daily is ‘Are you contributing or contaminating?’Meaning, either you’re getting better yourself and elevating the play of your teammates or vice versa,” he said.

The Tigers have shown a lot of improvement since the start of the season.

“The growth of the guys on the team has been tremendous. That’s the best part of coaching – watching your guys put in countless hours of working on their game and seeing them succeed in applying it on thefloor is the greatest gift,” said Worth.

Worth is excited about what lies ahead for the team.

“I believe this team has the potential to do anything they set their minds to. If they can continue to focus, work hard and play for eachother, I think the sky is the limit,” he said.


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