Saints gear up for conference play

Published: Wednesday, January 14, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 13, 2004 at 10:59 p.m.
The Santa Fe Community College men's basketball team has been stuck in its longest stretch of nowithout any basketball games since the winter holidays.
But that stretch ends today, as the Saints take on Central Florida Community College in Ocala at 7:30 p.m. to begin Mid-Florida Conference play one week after defeating Coastal Georgia 85-80.
Extended time off tends to cause that proverbial rustiness. But head coach Chris Mowry says that is not the case for his bunch.
"With the break, we've worked hard in practice," Mowry said. "We were able to fine-tune our game and work hard. We were able to add a couple new wrinkles in the offense and defense."
In his first year at SFCC, Mowry has led his group of young players to a 10-9 record. And it's his guidance centering on optimism that captures his team's attention.
"With coach, there are a lot of positives. He always keeps it positive," said Alonzo Hird, the Saints' leading scorer and rebounder.
Hird, a forward/center, brings his own set of positives to the team. His game speaks for itself, averaging close to a double-double on the season with 15.9 points and 9.7 rebounds.
"I'm going to keep the same game plan going into conference play," Hird said. "And as long as we're playing on top of our game, there isn't one team we're worried about matching up against."
The 6-foot-9, 220-pound sophomore will leave the Saints after this season to attend Eastern Kentucky University.
SFCC's strengths exist in its core group of Hird, sophomore guards Bryan Harrison and Charles Rourke and sophomore swingman Clark Williams. Yet no one knows the Saints' areas of vulnerability better than Mowry.
"We need to be more consistent in our play," Mowry said. "It's consistency; it's making good decisions and taking care of the ball. On defense, it's containing the ball one-on-one."
One such case came swiftly to Mowry's recollection and bewilders him.
"I remember during the Florida JUCO Shootout, we were playing an opponent in a half-court game and had 20 turnovers. The next day we played a team full court, and they pulled out full-court press on us, and we only had eight turnovers," Mowry said.
At times, the Saints lose focus on the road, where they have had trouble controlling the ball. With a 4-5 road record, there remains an important fragment of their road mentality to improve.
"We absolutely need to win games on the road," Mowry said.
As for the competition, the Saints' coach said he's confident in terms of matching up.
"Daytona Beach Community College has been ranked the highest this season, and they're definitely the deepest," Mowry said. "As long as we're playing at our highest level, though, we match up very well with everyone."
The Saints will also play Seminole Community College, St. Johns Community College and Florida Community College this season.

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