Dropping the ball

Boys basketball team struggles to pull out wins this season

Senior+Tyrique+Campbell+readies+himself+on+defense+while+eyeing+up+an+approaching+opponent+on+Feb.+9+against+Avonworth.

Sarah Levenson

Senior Tyrique Campbell readies himself on defense while eyeing up an approaching opponent on Feb. 9 against Avonworth.

Sarah Levenson, Managing Editor

After only getting to play five games last month due to COVID-19 postponements, the boys basketball team finally got into a steady flow of games taking place throughout all of February. However, the team continued struggling to lock in wins, as their in-section record was 0-10 as of Feb. 12. 

The Bulldogs kicked off the month with an intense home game versus the New Brighton Lions on Feb. 1. It was a highly competitive game with lots of scoring from both teams, with junior Carter Huggins leading the Bulldogs with 25 points. Ultimately, the boys lost by a tight score of 66-63.

The boys were not so fortunate the following day in their game against the Seton LaSalle Rebels. On Feb. 2, the team fell to the Rebels 65-28, a much different result from the night before. Freedom’s two highest point scorers of the evening were only able to put up 12 points each. 

A lot of the team’s struggles this season can be attributed to challenges caused by COVID-19 and valuable players being side-lined for various reasons. 

“I think one of our main challenges has been competing with quicker teams. We’ve had lots of guys ineligible and out with injuries so our bench depth hasn’t been the greatest,” Huggins said. 

Because so many players were ineligible or injured, it’s been tough for the boys to pull together during games and keep up the energy. Nonetheless, the team has continued to put in their best effort during games and practices. For example, players like Huggins have been working to improve their play by watching back film of previous games to learn from their mistakes. 

I think getting off to a slow start as we have makes it hard to stay confident, but I believe in this team and I believe we can have a strong finish to the season. We have the guys to do it; they won’t quit. I just have to make sure as the coach that I help get us there, because these guys are putting in great effort every day,” head coach Jeffrey Griffith said. 

On Feb. 5, the boys traveled to Aliquippa where they experienced another major loss with a score of 67-29. Huggins led the team in points yet again that evening, while putting up just nine points. 

The Bulldogs played much sharper in the following non-section game against Wilmington on Feb. 6. Senior captain Cole Beck netted 14 points, which helped the team gain the lead for the large majority of the game. Their efforts weren’t enough though, as the boys lost the advantage and fell 42-40. 

The boys also fought hard on their home court against Avonworth on Feb. 9 but fell 80-40. They faced the same unfortunate outcome on Feb. 12 at New Brighton, losing 71-47 and on Feb. 18 at Laurel, falling 69-27. 

During each game this season, the boys have struggled defensively with turning over the basketball and offensively with creating opportunities for shots and then following through with them. 

Senior night was originally scheduled for Feb. 15 against Western Beaver but was canceled due to poor weather. It was rescheduled for Feb. 19 against the Chartiers Houston Bucs when the Bulldogs got to honor their nine seniors for their years of hard work and dedication on the team. It was arguably the most exciting game of the season, as the stands were filled for the special night and fans made their presence known through continuous shouting, cheering and foot-stomping to psych out the competition. The game was close up until the end when multiple fouls were called against Freedom, which left too little time on the clock for the Bulldogs to take the lead. Ultimately, the team fell 53-46 to the Bucs. 

The boys worked hard as a group this month and showed plenty of potential for improvement in future games. With just two games left in their season, both Griffith and the boys hope to end strong with some solid wins. 

“I hope we can finish out this season strong with a couple of wins. We’ve been steadily improving, so I think we’ll be just fine,” Huggins said.