By TYLER HENRY
Salina Post contributor
After falling to ranked Hugoton in their first loss of the season to claim second at this year’s Sterling Tournament, the Southeast of Saline boy’s basketball team will hit the road to take on Republic County, officially beginning the home stretch of their season.
The Trojan resume is still mostly unscathed at 10-1 while the Buffaloes enter this contest still looking for traction at 3-9.
Overall, the takeaway from Sterling will go down as a positive one, as the Trojans continue battling top-ranked opponents, falling only to now #6 Hugoton.
“As a three-game package, I thought our time in Sterling was really good,” SES head coach Bryson Flax said. “Any time you can go into a tournament and win two games that’s a positive. In the first two rounds, I thought we were a little better defensively. We had a couple of lapses against shooters against Hugoton and I feel like I got outcoached a little bit and that’s something that I can take some ownership and improve on.”
Now, Southeast will refocus their attention on taking the NCAA, something that has become less of a goal and more of a product of their hard work and selfless play.
“If we continue to play at the level that we’re capable of playing at I think winning the league is an expectation,” Flax said. “I think that will be a product of us being locked in and controlling what we need to control. It’s great for our guys to get that recognition but I think what comes along with improving and getting better is more important than a league title.”
SES will have an excellent opportunity to bounce back and re-enter the win column against a Republic County team that has struggled to keep opponents off the board despite posing a number of different looks.
“They’ll throw some different defenses at us and if you let them shoot the ball they have some guys who can knock down shots,” he said. “They don’t have the kind of bigs that they traditionally do so their style is a bit different than it has been in the past.”
Much of the attention will be placed on the senior duo of Trey Melton and Sam Thumann, who hold a majority of the team’s points and rebounds coming into this contest.
For SES, the focus remains within as the Trojans look to get back to their winning ways through their own brand of basketball.
“We want to bounce back with a little more physicality than we played with at Hugoton and we need more than just Eli and Nakari to contribute offensively,” Flax said. “We’ve challenged some guys and we’ll see how they respond.”
Tip-off between the Trojans and Buffaloes is set for 7:00 in Belleville following the girl’s game at 6:30.
As always, both games can be heard on KINA (910 AM or 107.5 FM) or streamed on the Salina Post with live audio and video.