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Indians clean up in preseason

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By Jenna McKenna

Chiefland boys' basketball had a great showing in Williston's preseason Tip-Off Tournament, wiping out Leesburg First Academy in the first game and knocking off North Marion in the second.

First Academy, a talented 1A school, was badly overmatched against the Indians. The 66-27 Chiefland win did not so much showcase the Indians' ability to dominate as much as it showed their ability to follow directions and finish, regardless of the mismatch. The real story was the 78-58 dismantling of North Marion, a quality 4A team, albeit one missing several starters due to its extended football season.

Indians' head coach Mark Lundy was modest about Chiefland's win over the First Academy Eagles Tuesday, pointing out that his team had only had its first full practice with football players on Saturday.

“They're in good shape, but they're not in basketball shape,” he said.

“The hoop has been looking awfully small to us the last couple of days.”

Purely on power and without significant rebounding, the Indians ran it up to 22-0 on First Academy in the first quarter alone, and played the same way for most of the game. Because of the huge lead, Lundy put pretty much everyone into the game and got a very balanced effort from his team.

Marquis Jackson got outside for a three in the first quarter, and Cantrell Richardson had one in the fourth, but that was the extent of the outside shooting for Chiefland. What they did well was organized ball movement and consistent passing to the open man.

“We were very generous with our passing tonight,” Lundy said.

“We need to move our feet more on defense, though, and we definitely need to rebound more.”

Thursday's win against North Marion was more significant for the Indians. Although the Colts were without their football players, they had significant talent in standout freshman Markell Hawkins, who has moved from the frosh team all the way to varsity just since practice started. Chiefland beat North Marion 78-58 (“pretty easily,” Lundy said), with most of the credit going to the Indians' attentive defense.

“We spent pretty much the whole game either in a full court press or else in a half-court press,” Lundy said.

Using “a good rotation of kids,” the Indians let Colts' leading scorer Javon Alexander get his 20 points, but stifled Hawkins, holding him to 13. Brandon Carr had 11, but the rest of the team had only scraps.

“Most of that team is right-handed, and it's not hard to take away the right hand if you're playing good defense,” Lundy said.

“I've said all along, we're going to be strong defensively this year. We're not real big, but whatever we lack in size, we'll more than make up in heart.”

Chiefland's leading scorer was Eugene Robinson, with 29 points, many courtesy of the Indians' defense.

“Eugene got about half his points in transition,” Lundy said. “A lot of those came off steals.”

As in the First Academy game, Chiefland showed real patience on offense, getting Carter, Richardson and Tommy Sheffield all into double figures.

“We took our time on offense and passed up the good shot in favor of the great shot,” Lundy said.

“It was all about waiting to take the best open shots.”

Lundy said the Indians still aren't where they need to be with their rebounding, and noted that with half the team fresh from football, they're converting their movements from football to basketball.

“In football, you want to keep your feet moving, and go forward. In basketball, you keep your feet still, and go up,” he explained.

With both weekday and weekend practices, Lundy expects to have the whole team on the same page in short order.

“I'd say probably 65 percent of our practices are made up with defensive drill work,” he said.

“For us to have a winning season, we'll have to play defense really well.”

After the Thanksgiving break, Chiefland travels to Taylor County (Perry) on Monday, Dec. 1. JV at 6 p.m., varsity at 7:30.