Cardinals carefully focused as NEA reaches halfway point
Newport players converge to defend Medical Lake's Cory Wagner last Friday night. Wagner, however, led the Cardinals in scoring with 18 points in the 61-55 victory.
The focus is straight ahead, but not too far into the future, for the Medical Lake boy's basketball team.
Following a 1-2 week in Northeast A League play with losses at Freeman 61-51 last Tuesday and Friday at Lakeside 88-49, wrapped around a win at home 61-55 versus Newport, the Cardinals closed out the first half of the NEA season at Chewelah (1-3 NEA, 4-8 overall) this past Tuesday.
And that's as far as ML head coach Arnold Brown wants his players looking ahead. "That's a big game for us if we want to stay on track," Brown said. "If we can just get through this first half, 3-3 that's not bad."
Saturday the Cardinals (2-3, 4-8) are at Cheney for the annual Spirit Game, but "We don't have the ability to look ahead," Brown said. "I'm glad it's Tuesday (our only league game) and we don't have to play that until Saturday."
Tuesday at Freeman (3-1, 5-5) the Cardinals stayed with the Scotties through the first quarter where the teams tied 18-18. Freeman took a 37-31 halftime lead and kept it until the end.
"It's tough to win (in the first place) and it's tougher to win on the road," Brown said of the game where Tellas Johnson topped all scorers with 16 points, followed by Jaelon Stith's 13.
Ball handling was the difference. "We had too many turnovers," Brown said.
Versus Newport (2-3, 6-6) it was sophomore Cory Wagner's turn to lead the offense with 18 points, followed by Johnson's 15 and 14 more from Dylan Rushfeldt. The Cards used an 18-11 edge in the second quarter to lead 30-21 at the half and staved off a couple of Grizzly assaults. Jeron Konkright led all scorers with 27.
"Everybody, every night has to do something," Brown said of getting the production out of players other than leading scorer, Johnson. "What that is depends on what's happening that night for us."
Lakeside (4-0, 9-3) raced out of the gate Saturday in Suncrest, outscoring Medical Lake 26-8 and was never challenged.
"From the beginning they made it really obvious," Brown said. "I told the guys that's kind of the top and if that's where you think you want to be, or that's where you think we want to go or want to be that way now you kind of see where that is."
Johnson resumed his role as the top scorer in the game with 15 and got 12 points from Cooper James, the only Cards in double figures. Cody Watkins scored 18 for the Eagles while Dominique Watson had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
While the loss was big in terms of Lakeside's easy margin of victory, Brown did not let it bother him too much. "Those kind of losses I don't feel too bad about," Brown said. "Obviously they're a little bit better than us at the moment."
Plus, he wants his team paying more attention to what's ahead. "All our energies are focused on Tuesday's game," Brown said. "I told the guys we're guaranteed 20 games, that's it," Brown said. "You have to earn the rest, you've got to go out and get the rest."
Paul Delaney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.