Judging by Keys’ 7-3 mark this year, it would be hard to argue the success the Cougars are having. But Keys coach Duane Jones has been able to pinpoint some areas that need improving.
His first area of concern: starting strong in games.
“We have to start playing four quarters of basketball,” said Jones, whose team rallied from 19 points down to beat Wagoner in overtime on Dec. 18.
So, how does Keys fix its inefficiency early in games?
“It comes more from practice,” Jones said. “It’s a matter of staying focused in practice and being more intense.”
The Cougars hope they solved that problem over the recently-concluded winter break, which offered plenty of practice time over a span of 16 days.
“It was nice to have a winter break where we could get a lot of practices in,” Jones said. “We needed some practice time. We played a lot of games [in December], but we didn’t get much time to practice with football finishing late.”
The Cougars will begin the 2013 portion of their schedule tonight at home against Locust Grove, a team that beat Keys in the only matchup between the two clubs last season.
“They’re pretty good,” Jones said of the Pirates, who are 4-2. “They have three or four players back from last year, and I think they’re one of the better teams in the conference right now.”
Keys enters the Verdigris Valley Conference game 4-2 in the league. Locust Grove is 3-2.
“It’ll be a tough game after the break for us,” Jones said.
Keys girls healthy, ready for 2013
For Mickey Duncan and the Keys girls, winter break was a welcome occurrence.
“It came at a good time for us,” said Duncan, Keys’ coach. “Since the Catoosa game, we were all sick; we needed some time away from each other.”
The rash of illnesses didn’t seem to hamper Keys too much, though. The Lady Cougars lost to Catoosa on Dec. 14, but they rebounded to post wins over Vian and Wagoner before heading into the holiday break.
“The break came at the right time,” Duncan said.
Next up for the rejuvenated Lady Cougars is the first of back-to-back games with Locust Grove. The two teams will meet tonight at Cougar Fieldhouse before playing each other in the first round of the Locust Grove Invitational on Tuesday.
“It will be kind of tough,” Duncan said. “We may try to save some things for the tournament, but we’ll see how the game plays out. We would really like to win the first game in the tournament, because we want to play Adair in the next round.”
As for Duncan’s scouting report on Locust Grove, he said, “They’re going to be a team that’s going to get up and down the floor. That’s the way I like to play, and we’ll see if we can pick up the pace of our game and run up and down the floor with them. Hopefully we’ll be faster.”