Resilient Southwestern Boys Basketball in Midst of Excellent Run

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The Southwestern boys basketball team did not get its 2016-17 season off to the best start.

The Sabers struggled initially out of the gate, dropping double digit losses to Mervo and Edmondson-Westside to start their season. Though many coaches would have been frustrated by the team's lackluster play, second year head coach Marc Lester and assistant coach Lavel Madden viewed it as an opportunity for Southwestern to focus on getting better.

"Losing two games back to back really allowed us to see ourselves during film study," Lester said. "We used film study to expose where we were lacking, and where we needed to improve."

The Sabers' film study sessions have clearly been working.

Southwestern sits at 8-3 after winning eight of its last nine games to turn around its season, including victories against Baltimore City foes like Frederick Douglass, Northwestern and FAET. The team's lone loss during this stretch, which came against Lake Clifton, has been sandwiched between two four game win streaks.

For Lester, the key to the team's excellent form has been its defense. Southwestern has allowed just under 50 points a game over its past nine contests.

"Southwestern's style of play is defense creates our offense. We like to trap and force turnovers. My guys are a very fast and scrappy group that have been taught to impose their will," Lester said. "It's a relentless group of young men."

The team's resilient nature was best on display during the championship of the Mistletoe Christmas Tournament at Chesapeake High School in Anne Arundel County.

After dispatching Wheaton from Montgomery County in the tournament's opening round 60-52, the Sabers squared off against the hosts and found themselves in an early hole, falling behind 14-0 right away. The team ended up battling back to come away with a gritty 59-54 victory.

"My guys really locked in. I didn't call a timeout to regroup but allowed them to figure it out and also give me an idea of who would give up. Well to my surprise, they never gave up and held Chesapeake to five points in the second quarter," Lester said. "That win really showed them what it takes to win even when you're down and your back is against the wall in someone else's backyard."

The team's floor general has been junior shooting guard Donnie Moore, a player Lester described as Mr. Everything. Moore is averaging 16.2 points and five steals per game, doing a lot of his damage from beyond the three point line.

Southwestern's top presence inside has been senior power forward Daniel Hoskins, who is averaging a double-double with 12.7 points and a little more than 15 rebounds a game. Providing the Sabers with a spark off the bench is senior shooting guard Tyrin Brown, whose incredible defensive pressure has led to an impressive six steals per game.

"We were able to string together those win streaks by playing great defense and guys stepping up when their number is called," Lester said. "It's been a collective effort and, again, a relentless mindset to have some early success in the season."

Looking ahead, Southwestern's next game should provide one of its biggest tests when the team goes on the road to face one of Harford County's top teams, Joppatowne. It promises to be an exciting contest as Joppatowne is currently 12-1 and on a three game winning streak.

Although the team's improvement and future games is exciting, Lester also wants to see his players grow away from the court.

"Expectations are not just being great basketball players, but also making great decisions on and off the court," Lester said. "Being a student-athlete and being a great example for young men that may have the desire to be a Saber."
January 17th, 2017By: Wick Eisenberg

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