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|Winter sports arrive with a flurry|
|Written by Alejandro Serrano|
|Friday, 19 November 2010 17:22|
In the chilly, brightly lit and still brand-new gym, the boy's varsity and junior varsity basketball teams run through their offensive plays as their coaches nitpick every move as the team preps for its first test of the season.
"Count it out!" yelled David Thursby, Tombstone High School's varsity basketball coach and athletic director.
"One, two, three, four, five, six" echoed through the gym as the players counted the number of seconds they would hold their stretches, before practice.
"Louder," Thursby said when the players' counting had turned into soft rhythmic repetitions of numbers.
Thursby, who is in his second year with the Yellow Jackets, said he knows he has to really prepare his team for the season to make up for their lack of size.
"We don't have a lot of height," he said, "where we're going to get into trouble is when the refs allow teams to be physical and take us out of what we want to do."
Tombstone's tallest player, William Braswell, is 6-foot-4 and next tallest is Dom Bonilla, who is about 6-foot-1.
"Dom is going to be one of the three major scorers this year," Thursby said.
"He'll probably be matched up (on defense) with the other team's best forward." Because of their size disadvantage, Thursby said that the team is going to play an up-tempo defense that focuses on creating turnovers and a slow tempo offense.
Thursby likes his team's chances if they can shorten the ballgame up and make every possession that much more valuable.
"We'll be able to hang with a lot of teams," he said.
The lack of size isn't Tombstone's only problem.
"We're young," Thursby said. "I think we have one senior and three juniors and the rest are sophomores and freshmen."
Tombstone's nucleus goes about seven players deep, so the boys will stay in for a majority of the ballgame.
"I just keep telling them to stay out of foul trouble, because one through seven we're pretty good, but after that there's a big drop off.
"The young guys are just going to have to grow up," Thursby said, and quickly.
Tombstone is set to scrimmage St. Gregory today, which won state titles in two of the past three years and boasts a point guard who Coach Thursby claims "is probably the best in the state."
Thursby will be able to evaluate his players in more game-like scenarios and make some final decisions to go into the regular seasons.
"I think three of the (starting) spots are solidified, but spots four and five are up for grabs," Thursby said, "It's one thing to put them through drills and another to see them in game action."
Coach Bob MacKenzie has a good problem this season.
On a team short of star power, the coach is looking for his role players from last year to do a lot more this year.
“We’re very athletic,” he said.
Contrary to most of the other Tombstone sports teams this year, MacKenzie’s roster of 10 to 12 boasts five seniors.
“We’re more experienced than we were last year,” he said.
Tombstone’s star-in-the-making, Cheyenne Soto, will be the squad’s go-to girl.
Much like the boys’ team, due to a lack of size under the basket, Tombstone’s girls are going to look to press on defense and shorten the game up on offense.
“It’s similar to the Princeton offense and John Wooden’s teams at UCLA’s offense, there’s a lot of back door cuts,”
The most unknown of all the teams this winter season, the wrestling team, has no idea what they’re capable of.
“It’s tough to say where we’ve improved,” said Coach Eddie Ponzio. “The juniors that I had last year are obviously greatly improved, but all the new guys, we’ll just have to see.”
Ponzio’s goal for the season is to send a wrestler in every weight class to state. He has 18 wrestlers this year when all you need is 15 for a full team.
“It’s definitely doable,” Ponzio said, when speaking about the aforementioned goal.