Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Classic Gives Teams Wake-Up Call; Clay Lost Both Games at the Clay County Line Preseason Classic

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Classic Gives Teams Wake-Up Call; Clay Lost Both Games at the Clay County Line Preseason Classic

Article excerpt

Byline: BILL JOHNSON

"We've got a long way to go."

Middleburg Mike Harrison said it about his Broncos. Clay Jay Maynard said the same about his Blue Devils.

In fact, after the four-team Clay County Line Preseason Classic ended Friday night, all three county teams involved knew there was work to be done.

Especially since Jacksonville's Bishop Snyder, which won 73-60 over Middleburg and 70-48 over Clay, was decidedly the class of the tournament.

Clay lost both of its games - to Snyder and 66-51 to Keystone - but the Blue Devils were without the services of probable starting guards Lawrence Bates and Davin Britt, so predicting their regular-season success by their lack of success at the classic is tricky.

Maynard, in his first year, had no trouble gauging his defense's success, however.

"We expected to see us struggle a bit with cohesiveness on offense," he said. "But we didn't play with any effort at all on defense. We're still learning a new system, but there's no excuse for just an outright lack of effort on defense."

The Blue Devils gave up 136 points in their two games - a tournament high - and they also put in a tournament-low 99 points. Maynard did not say when Britt and Bates would be back in, but the new coach was in no mood to make excuses.

"We've got a long way to go in terms of communication."

Harrison found out on the first night against Bishop Snyder that his Broncos can get sporadic when facing pressure. On the second night, against Keystone, he was pleasantly surprised to find that his team can make other teams sporadic when applying pressure. The difference: a 73-60 loss vs. a 58-46 win.

"When we played hard and took our time, good things happened," said Harrison, who is hoping to increase his team's tempo this year. "We've got a more athletic group than we've had in the past."

Harrison is looking to a couple of freshman - Tony Jefferson and Mike Reed - to help pick up the pace, but he said they have to learn when it's time to run and time to protect.

"They're two 14-year-old freshmen," the coach said. "I showed them I had confidence enough in them to have them on the floor with the game on the line. …

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