PCA cleaning the glass Eagles use hustle, speed to improve rebounding

Published 10:04 am Thursday, January 27, 2011

When the shot goes up, the race begins. First one to the basketball wins.

More often than not, it’s someone in a Porters Chapel Academy uniform.

Utilizing a unique mix of fearlessness and athleticism, the Eagles are averaging more than 30 rebounds a game as a team this season. The top six players in their regular rotation are all averaging at least five a game, even though 6-foot-7 center Talbot Buys is the only one over 6-foot-2.

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“It depends on us. In basketball, all five have to get the rebound if they want to be successful. If you practice getting to the basket, you can,” said Kawayne Gaston, who is averaging 19 points and 11 rebounds since transferring from Vicksburg High over the holiday break. “I think us attacking the basket like we’ve been, it opens up layups, and-ones and 3s. We can’t be lazy or we’ll get killed.”

Unlike past seasons, PCA has been the one coming out on top this season. It was just 4-10 in 2009-10 and lost in the first round of the District 5-A Tournament.

Heading into this year’s district tournament, which begins Monday at University Christian, the Eagles have been transformed. They have a 10-6 record, will enter the tournament as the No. 3 seed, and have realistic hopes of advancing to the MAIS Class A tournament in two weeks.

“It’s a big turnaround,” said Buys, one of only two regulars who returned from last season. “We’re third in the district and we were at the bottom last year. We play as a team, and that’s helped a lot this year.”

The team concept is most apparent in their rebounding stats. Gaston leads the team with 11 a game in less than half a season, while Buys is second at 10 a game. The rest of the team is balanced, though.

Forward Ted Brisco grabs nine a night, while sixth man Jake Boyd is pulling down seven. Guards Matthew Warren and Peter Harris average six and five, respectively.

“We’re just jumping, putting our hands up and using our bodies. We’ve just got a lot of speed and can go to the ball,” Buys said. “When those balls come down, you just jump and put them back up. It contributes a lot — two points.”

The rebounding has been a huge asset for PCA. It has limited second-chance opportunities for opponents and generated more of them for the Eagles. Although it has helped increase the team’s offensive output, coach E.J. Creel joked that it’s been frustrating to watch at times.

“I told them the other day that I think they just want to get that rebounding stat,” she said with a laugh. “Second-chance points have definitely gone up due to our rebounding. The offensive end is just pure hustle. As long as one person is back on defense, I’m OK with everybody hitting the boards hard.”

Creel added that a lot of the team’s success on the boards has come from a growing basketball IQ. Among the team’s six-man rotation, only Warren and Boyd are seniors. As the younger players have grown, matured and become familiar with Creel’s defensive philosophy, she said rebounding chances have followed.

“I think they realized it, that they’re in the right spot. Being in the right position on the defensive end has helped us with rebounding,” Creel said. “A lot of it is attitude. You mix that with athleticism and you’ve got a good combination.”