Hornets look to rebound from 3-4 start to season

Published 10:22 pm Monday, December 14, 2015

Andre Hall tries to dribbe past Demerius Jones during Monday’s practice at Dallas County High School.  The Hornets are 3-4 on the season but hope to get back on track starting with Tuesday’s home game against Calhoun. --Daniel Evans

Andre Hall tries to dribbe past Demerius Jones during Monday’s practice at Dallas County High School. The Hornets are 3-4 on the season but hope to get back on track starting with Tuesday’s home game against Calhoun. –Daniel Evans

PLANTERSVILLE — It’s safe to say the Dallas County boys’ basketball team isn’t used to losing. Two years ago the Hornets won the 4A state championship and last season they were just two victories from the 5A title.

A banner picturing the entire 2013-2014 team hangs on the wall at the school’s gym and overlooks practice every day.  It serves as a reminder of past glory but also of the wins that have eluded Dallas County thus far in 2015.

“Most of our kids come in and think just because I’m wearing that jersey it’s going to be good enough for us to win,” said Hornets head coach Willie Moore. “That’s not the case because these guys haven’t won anything yet.”

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None of the players on the Hornets’ current roster started on either one of those teams, but they understand the expectation those teams set. In part, the recent Dallas County teams have been this one’s worst enemy, just because of the bar they set.

Thus far, the Hornets haven’t lived up to those expectations, but they are far from giving up the fight.

The Hornets are 3-4 and are coming off a loss to a Booker T. Washington team it defeated on the road to open the season. Dallas County led that game at halftime by 26-18 but eventually lost by 12.

Senior Henry Baker said the loss was a real eye opener.

“It tells you that you are not doing something right,” Baker said. “Something is not going the way it’s supposed to go. You don’t just go into halftime up 10 and then come out flat the next half. You’ve got to keep playing throughout the game, the first through the fourth quarter.”

During Monday’s practice, Moore and Hornets’ assistant coach Cliff Nix challenged their team to get better in every facet of the game.

They worked on players moving without the ball to help the offense find open shots.

Their point was clear — being young isn’t an excuse for not playing hard.

“We are not going to lower our standards because we don’t have an experienced team,” Moore said. “We are trying to get our kids to buy into the process of coming in here and working hard every day.”

Dallas County lost only five games all of last season, but it would’ve been unrealistic for anyone to expect this season’s much younger Hornets’ team to jump right in and fill the shoes of stars Jerrod Moorer and Raheem Phillips.

Moore knew it would take more of a team effort this year, but he was hoping it’d be farther along at this point.

“We’ve not been able to game plan for other people because we’ve been focusing on trying to work on ourselves,” Moore said. “We are almost two months into the season and we are still at the beginning stages of working on ourselves.”

However, all of Dallas County’s goals are still in front of them. The Hornets still have five area games remaining and could still finish atop class 5A, area 6 again this season.  They could still make a playoff run too.

“It is a challenge to prove that we can still be a good team and represent the program well,” Baker said.

Moore said he’s not disappointed in the four losses, but the way the Hornets have played in some of the losses. He’s convinced Dallas County can still turn things around if the Hornets take a step back and try to figure out why they aren’t winning in the first place.

“It’s going to take looking at ourselves as individuals and our players collectively looking in the mirror and saying ‘I play and represent Dallas County, whether I am with my team or not,’” Moore said.

It may also be about turning the page.

There’s been a lot written about the last two Dallas County teams and all of their success. That group won the first and only basketball championship in school history, so their place in history is more than safe in Plantersville.

The current team is hoping to keep that success going, but Moore knows it’ll start by the team finding an identity and pushing through this difficult start. Senior Jaydon Buford thinks it might also help to move on from the past.

After all, none of those former players have any eligibility left to revive the current Hornets’ season. It’ll be up to them, starting with Tuesday night’s home game against Calhoun.

“If you keep on living in the past, you can’t get better,” Buford said.