After another region win against the Rams on Friday, Tucker currently sits atop the region 2-AAAAAA standings, as Newton (16-5, 3-4 Region 2-AAAAAA) ranks fourth in the region behind Rockdale (15-6, 5-2 Region 2-AAAAAA) and Lovejoy (4-10, 3-3 Region 2-AAAAAA). However, this game was much different than the last, a 67-42 thrashing in early December, without center usual starting center Josh Tukes.
This time the Rams played a much tougher, tighter game, despite inevitably losing 51-40. D.J. Hill scored 15 points and Keondre McKibben added 12. Head coach Rick Rasmussen speaks on the win in this exclusive Q&A.
The Covington News: Talk a little bit about how this is preparation for when you guys see them again. We talked about it earlier, these are the two practice games. The game that matters is the region tournament game.
Rick Rasmussen: I would love to get a shot at Tucker in the region championship game because I think we’ve got the formula and it’s hard to beat somebody three times. If we can go to work on the film, if we can eliminate a few of the little breakdowns we had, we would love to get another shot at them.
CN: Coach, you’ve already improved so much. Like you said from the last game and now you’ve gotten the chance to play them at full health for the first time, so what are some of the things – I know you haven’t had the opportunity to look at film yet, but what are some of the things that you can take away already?
Rasmussen: Well, again, I think we can take away that if we execute we’ve got the recipe to have a chance to play with them and controlling the tempo is key. My guys are hungry to get another shot at them. Maybe the third time will be the charm.
CN: Coach, last question. Talk a little bit about, like you said controlling the tempo. How were you guys able to do it in this game?
Rasmussen: We took care of the basketball most of the game. We were patient and we executed our motion offense pretty well. I thought we made them work defensively. When we’re playing well, we’re usually going to run our offense and make somebody work and they played us man-to-man. We forced them to have to change some of the ways they guarded the screen and roll. They made some good adjustments, but we forced them to have to adjust because what they were doing just coming out in straight man [defense], they weren’t getting the result they wanted. I thought we were very patient and methodical. We beat ‘em back-door a few times. We were able to control the tempo with our offense, and then defensively, other than a few breakdowns we really contested the threes really well. Which we’ll have to do again against some of the other people in our region, and we rebounded pretty well. I thought those were keys defensively. I thought our communication defensively was much better.
CN: If there’s anything else you’d like to add, go ahead.
Rasmussen: I think we improved tonight. Even though we wanted to get the ‘W’ I think Keondre McKibben grew up tonight. D.J. (Hill) was much more aggressive in attack mode, which is what we’re starting to stress. Two of our seniors stepped up and I think that was a game that we can look back on as making us tougher...