Cowboys enter district with eye on postseason redemption

By Peter Sblendorio

Staff Writer

Cowboys basketball was left with a sour taste in its mouth last February after being eliminated in the second round of the Class 5A playoffs. For a chance at postseason redemption, Coppell needs to play well in district games.

Coppell (12-10) will play its first District 6-5A game on Friday, Jan. 15 against Southlake Carroll. The Dragons enter with an 18-4 record.

Coppell is no stranger to the high stakes of playing well against district opponents in order to make the playoffs. Last season, the Cowboys posted a 6-4 record in district games, enough to qualify for a postseason spot. As was the case a year ago, the Coppell coaches are stressing the need to execute on defense as the key to being successful in close games.

“We have always focused on defense and getting stops,” Coppell head basketball coach Brad Chasteen said. “We take it personally when [other teams] score on us. Defense is the one [part of the game] that we can control.”

Coppell’s defense has kept the Cowboys close in a number of their biggest games so far this season. Coppell was able to hold perennially tough offenses Duncanville and Desoto under the 60 points and has only let an opponent score more than 70 three times.

In addition to playing lockdown defense, Coppell relies heavily on its six seniors with experience playing in gritty games against Coppell’s talented 6-5A opponents. Coppell’s roster sports six underclassmen that see regular playing time, so major contributions from the seasoned seniors will be integral for the Cowboys to put together a winning streak.

The senior captains, guard Andrew Bourg and forward Nic Johnston, are especially important to the team’s success, as they have been the on-court leaders of the team. Bourg leads the Cowboys with 10.7 points per game and 3.9 assists per game, while Johnson brings physicality to the frontcourt for Coppell. The players see executing in pressure situations as an important ingredient to district success.

“Every game in district should be close,” Bourg said. “We need to make our free throws down the stretch and take care of the ball [each game].”

District 6-5A is competitive, as every team finished nondistrict play with a winning record. Coppell will have to be up to the task of topping at least two of the six teams in the division in order to qualify for the postseason in February.

Flower Mound Marcus is the favorite to win District 6-5A, as it is 20-2 and ranked No. 3 in Class 5A. Marcus won the Whataburger Tournament in December, a tournament where Coppell was awarded the consolation championship. The Marauders have been led by impressive sophomore forward Marcus Smart, who averages 17.4 points per game.

Southlake Carroll and Flower Mound High School represent the other contenders for the District 6-5A title. For Coppell to get into that discussion, the Cowboys will have to play their best basketball of the year against their district opponents.

“We haven’t played up to our potential so far,” junior guard Andrew Rexroat said. “It’s do or die (in district). We have to have a sense of urgency in each game from now on.”