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Date Posted: 11:56:17 01/20/06 Fri
(There's a paragraph or two on Tyree near the end of the article)
Crusaders not ready to fall back
Led by guard play, Strake stays in playoff chase
By JEREMY RAKES
Strake Jesuit might not be as tall as some of the other schools in District 19-5A, but the Crusaders have speed and can shoot the basketball. Thanks to their outside touch, Strake sits in the middle of what looks to be a five-team race for three playoff spots.
"We don't have the height that other teams in our district do," said Strake Jesuit head coach Wayne Jones. "We rely a lot on our guard play and our speed, and that has worked out well for us. Right now it looks like it's going to be between us, the three Alief schools and Cinco Ranch for the three playoff bids, so we know we have to step it up and play our best basketball in order to get in."
With over half of district play left, the Crusaders know they still have a lot of basketball left to play, but Jones knows the team has come a long way since the beginning of the season.
"The team has progressed very well," Jones said. "They are really enjoying the fruits of their labor right now. The kids have worked really hard and bit into the system."
Jones said the one area where the Crusaders have improved the most is shooting the ball. "When we shoot the basketball well, we play really well, but when we don't, we struggle," he said. "We have improved a lot in our ability to shoot the basketball this season, and that is one of the reasons we are in the hunt for a playoff race."
But with plenty of district still left to play and a match-up with Westbury Christian still on their schedule, Jones knows his team has to show up to play every night.
"This district is very competitive, and if you don't show up against every team, you are going to get beat," Jones said. "We want to make the playoffs, but we are looking at going out there and playing hard night in and night out right now. We don't look at any one team and say we have to beat them because any team can beat you in this district."
Jones said the Crusaders have jelled nicely this season, and he thinks the Washington Examiner Tip-off Classic is where they started to put it all together.
"We went to D.C. to play in the Classic, and we did some things up there that helped us become the team we are now," he said. "We were away from home, and it was just the team. This is a group of young men who believe in each other and the team. We don't worry about the scoreboard but how play because we know that as a result of how we play, the scoreboard will come out in our favor."
Part of the reason for Strake's emergence as one of the teams to beat in District 19-5A is senior Stephen Tyree. Tyree, a 6-5 guard, has signed a letter of intent to play at Bucknell next year.
"Stephen is an incredible player and leader," Jones said. "He has done all the little intangibles that makes a player and team successful. He will play any position on the floor from one to five, and he will guard anyone on the floor. He does the things that don't show up in the box score. One of the main reasons we are where we are right now is Stephen."
With the playoffs in their sight, the Crusaders know what they have to do.
"I am looking for us to have more consistency," Jones said. "We have to consistently play hard, and I think if we play more consistent every night, we will be one of the three playoff teams in this district."
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