By GARY STALLARD
During Tuesday’s afternoon practice, Angelina College head basketball coach Nick Wade ran his players through a series of shooting drills. With every shot, Wade got his message across – with emphasis – that every move should have a purpose behind it.
It’s that time of the season.
Everything matters, especially with the regular season winding toward its close and tournament berths on the line. The Roadrunners have been road warriors of late, playing their last three conference games as the visitors. After dropping the first two of those, AC bounced back with a huge win last Wednesday at Lee College, with the ‘Runners battling to a 68-64 win behind 20 points from Kevin Norman and a double-double (12 points, 15 rebounds) from Deon’ta Lagway.
Now the Roadrunners enter a more favorable schedule: Five of their final six games will take place at home, starting with this Wednesday’s game against Blinn College. All but one of those games will be against opponents in Region XIV’s South Division, where the Roadrunners reside.
And this is where Wade and the ‘Runners hope to make their run toward a tournament invitation. Currently, AC (4-8 in conference play) is tied for fourth place in the zone, but the team is just three games out of first place. Wednesday’s opponent, Blinn’s Buccaneers, is in second place at 6-6.
It’s because of this typical, February logjam that Wade hasn’t panicked over his team’s record. His experience in Region XIV, along with his original plan of building the program, has served his players and him well as they embark on a critical stretch of the season.
“You can only take this league a game at a time,” Wade said. “It’s like I’ve told our guys, it would be wrong of me to have anyone thinking we’re going to win a conference or national championship immediately. You’ve got to build the house, and you can’t skip a step. You have to think one game at a time.
“In this conference, if you do that and you’re peaking at the right time, you’re going to have an opportunity to do some really special things.”
Blinn won the first matchup on Jan. 16 in Brenham, but Wade said he felt his team missed out on an opportunity for a road win that night.
“We gave up too many second-chance buckets to them, and we missed a ton of free throws (the team went 9-of-22),” Wade said. “If we rebound the way we’re capable, and we don’t spot a team 14 to 18 points, we’re going to be in the game.
“Blinn is a great team, very well-coached, but as long as we play our game and play as hard as we can, I think we’ll be fine.”
Wednesday’s contest tips off at 7 p.m. at Shands Gymnasium. Viewers can watch the game via live stream by logging onto angelinaathletics.com.
The e-mail address for AC’s Sports Information Director is email@example.com.