Keith learning how to handle close games during summer

Published 10:32 pm Tuesday, June 9, 2015

During summer basketball playdates, there aren’t any championships on the line and for the most part, the score doesn’t matter. Coaches often use the time to reinforce points, to give younger players a chance to develop during the offseason and to put in new offensive or defensive plays.

However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t lessons to be learned.

Keith High School boys basketball coach Tommy Tisdale found one of those teachable moments Tuesday at the end of his team’s game against Greenville at Southside High School.

The Bears had the ball and were clinging to a 48-46 lead with under 20 seconds on the clock. Tisdale called timeout and told his guys to take one shot — the final one. Instead, they quickly fired up a shot and allowed Greenville three good looks at a game winning three-pointer.

Luckily for the Bears, all three attempts missed.

“This is an opportunity for you to make that mistake,” Tisdale said. “I’d prefer to make that mistake now than in November, December or February.”

It’s the kind of mistake that can end a season in February, but on Tuesday it was just another chance for Tisdale to teach his players how to handle an end of game situation. He said after the game he had a discussion with his team about senior leadership and what he expected out of his experienced guys.

“From a senior I expect senior leadership and senior capability,” Tisdale said. “At no time should you say, ‘well he’s a senior.’ I expect a senior to be ready to play whenever his number is called. If he’s a senior on my team that don’t play two minutes, whatever I’ve got him on there for be it a specialist, a defensive guy, for those two minutes he better give me whatever it is he’s playing for. I need that and that’s the message I tried to get to them.”

The Bears ended up playing three one-possession games on Tuesday.

Keith defeated Sumter Central 58-56 and lost 37-36 to Clarke County. Keith’s leading scorer, who provided an 11-0 run by himself in the game against Greenville, did not play in the loss to Clarke County.

Tisdale said he’s proud of how hard his team is playing during the summer.

“I tell the guys we will learn it when it’s time for practice,” Tisdale said. “For all you don’t know now, you can make up with hustle and hard work.”