BOYS BASKETBALL: Seminole, Monahans meet again
Feb 22, 2013 (Odessa American - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Hunter Weishuhn speaks a lot about certain traditions that define Seminole High School's boys basketball program. There are plenty. So what ranks highest on the Indians' priority list is carrying out the responsibility associated with upholding those traditions already in place.
This season has been no different. Just trace the Indians' schedule back to late December.
"Coming back after Christmas, we have a little tradition where Coach says, 'We don't lose after Christmas.' We came in ready to work and knowing what we had to do to keep the tradition alive and to be the best that we possibly could be," Weishuhn said.
The Indians were 9-6 before the holiday and came awfully close to perfection after it, losing just once prior to ripping off 15 straight wins dating back to Dec.28.
"We grew a lot closer on and off the court," Weishuhn said.
Caught in Seminole's two-month undefeated wake was former district cohort Monahans on Jan.4 -- an Indians 61-50 victory. The Class 3A teams were accustomed to facing one another twice a season. They did so for four consecutive years district rivals. But University Interscholastic League realignment forced the two separate ways this season with the Loboes remaining in District 4-3A and the Indians relocating to District 2-3A.
It just so happens that Seminole (25-8) and Monahans (23-7) found a way back to each other once again.
The Indians and Loboes will rekindle a bit of tradition between them and play out that second meeting after all at 6 tonight at the Odessa College Sports Center in an area round playoff, where the heat will assuredly be turned up on both sides.
"We know each other pretty well, they are familiar," Seminole head coach Paul Page said. "It's good to be back playing those guys."
The matchup features teams with identical aspirations, though Seminole has much more experience at this juncture of the playoffs, having advanced at least to the regional quarterfinals each of the last four seasons and getting as far as the regional final in 2009.
Meanwhile, Monahans, which snapped a 34-year playoff drought two seasons ago, has never been past the area round.
"We still feel very confident about what we can do," Monahans coach Kurt White said. "We know we have a good team, and our kids believe that. And that's a hurdle we've gotten over recently -- we go into games expecting to win."
District realignment didn't bother Seminole in the least, and winning is second nature at this point.
Even with the thorn of thorns -- Lubbock Estacado, a team that has eliminated the Indians from the postseason each of the last four years -- in its district, Seminole bounced to its comfortable beat and wrapped up its fourth consecutive league title. In doing so, the Indians went 10-0, including two victories over the Matadors by a combined five points.
"It was a program hurdle that we finally got over, so the kids kind of built off of that confidence," Page said. "We thought going into the district, as tough as it is, it would be hard for anybody to go 10-0. On any given night anybody could beat the other. But after we got on a run there in the first half of district, we began to feel like we might be that team, and the kids made it happen."
Those 10 triumphs increased Seminole's district unbeaten streak to 40 games.
"We talk about the fact that we are not just playing for this year but we are playing for all the banners up there (in the gym) already. We are representing those guys when we put the jersey on," Seminole senior Sam Shirley said. "It's not just about us, it's about the people that have been here before."
The 6-foot-7 Weishuhn averaged a double-double, 15.7 points and 14 rebounds, every time he stepped on the floor this season. His 2012-13 resume includes a 30-point, 20-rebound onslaught against Lubbock-Cooper.
Isaac Rangel is second on the team in points per game with 11.3 and the 6-2, 230-pound Sam Shirley is third with 9.2. But it was Shirley and sophomore Sabraun Adams who gave Monahans fits last month, posting a team-high 19 points.
Seminole's win streak came to an end Monday in a practice game against Idalou. But that 62-52 loss may serve as a blessing in disguise, Page said.
"It really has been." Page said. "I think it refocused them a little bit. Probably better for us in the long run, we hope."
Monahans, which never beat the Indians in the four-year 4-3A stretch, trailed Seminole by one point at halftime Jan. 4 before it was outscored 18-7 in the third quarter. The Loboes went on to finish third in 4-3A behind Abilene Wylie and Greenwood.
"Quite frankly, we didn't play as well as we could have when we faced them the last time," said White, whose team beat Mountain View 57-45 in the bi-district round Tuesday night and was 13-2 when it met Seminole. "We were just a little off."
Two-thirds of the Loboes' leading scoring trio was the opposite of off in their win over Mountain View. Andres Facio, who averages 17 points per game, nearly doubled that with his 29-point performance. Jr. Morales chipped in 16 points, leaving just 12 points scattered throughout the rest of the Monahans' lineup.
White is certain that points will need to come from elsewhere for his team elevate its chances of moving past a major road block.
"We've got to have Kahlil Cooper come along and score big for us like he has all year long," White said of his senior guard, who has averaged 13 points per game this season but had just two points entering the fourth quarter Tuesday before finishing with eight. "Those three right there have got to come around and we've got to have some people scoring off the bench."
White also said he expects each of his remaining players to continue to carry out their respective roles, something that has been a strong suit within the program this season.
"That's big thing, it is us playing as a team," he said, lauding the play of point guards Jacob Lair and Bryan Venegas, who he called "court coaches" in charge of getting the ball to the team's playmakers.
"We have to practice harder and go at them, do our best," Facio said after Tuesday's game.
The variety of contributions also should include those of 6-foot-5 senior Josh Holly, who will not usually score big points, but will play defense and rebound. Holly makes up half of what figures to be an intriguing matchup within the matchup, between he and Weishuhn.
"Monahans is good. They are nothing to take lightly and they are very capable," Page said. "Anytime you have 6-2, 6-4 guards like Facio and Morales, it's going to be a tough game. It's going to come to who attacks the zone (defense) better and who hits the shots."
--Follow Joshua Weaver on Twitter @OAtheWeave
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