Six wins and no losses looks good on paper, but Owensboro Catholic boys’ basketball head coach Tim Riley said his team is still far from where they need to be.
The Aces have only been challenged twice this season — most recently they had to come from behind to beat 9th District rival Daviess County 68-59 Friday night, a game Riley said the team needed.
“It was good for us to have to fight from behind and play a tough game down to the very end,” he said. “That was tough.”
Catholic also had to fend off 3rd Region opponent Breckenridge County two weeks ago for a 79-73 win, but other than that no game has been close.
After losing most of their experienced players to graduation, the Aces have had to rely on several newcomers for production. They’ve also gotten a boost from senior John Parker, a top region player who transferred from Ohio County.
While he knows the talent is deep on his roster, Riley said it will still take time for them to develop to their full potential.
“John Parker has scored a whole bunch of points and played a lot of high school basketball games, but he’s only played six with us,” he said. “Andrew Riney and Drew Hartz, I knew those boys were going to be really good, but they were JV guys last year. They played a little varsity, but not a ton. It’s an inexperienced team and we’ve got a lot of growing up to do.”
Parker has clearly been the team’s leader, and he’s got a team-high 86 points and 48 rebounds so far.
Both juniors, Riney (53 points, 20 rebounds) has added some help as a starter, while Hartz (35 points, 22 points) has been effective off the bench.
A trio of seniors have played well alongside Parker, with Peyton Survant (43 points) and Zach Cecil (28 points) on the wings and big man Ty Vincent down low.
Survant has been the most dangerous long-range shooter, knocking down 17 3-pointers, and Vincent is second on the team in both points (65) and rebounds (24).
Riley said with such a new lineup, the depth chart is still fluid and the best players will earn the start each night. He hasn’t been afraid to play his younger guys, most notably freshman Brian Griffith.
Serving as the backup point guard, Griffith has helped limit the dropoff between starter and bench, and he’s scored 21 points.
Though the offense can score in bunches, the key so far for the Aces has actually been at the other end of the floor with an active defense. When possible, they use a full court press to create turnovers and quick buckets.
It was that pressure that helped create some breathing room in Friday’s win over the Panthers, as the Aces scored six points in only eight seconds to close the third quarter.
Still, Riley said they were exploited by Daviess County, and it served as an opportunity for Catholic to learn how they can keep working to get better.
It takes talent to constantly win regardless of the opposition, but Riley said the Aces have to keep working if they want to meet his standards of being a good team.
“We’ve got a long way to go to be a good basketball team,” he said. “We’re 6-0, but that doesn’t mean we’re that good. We’ve got a decent basketball team, but we’ve got to keep getting better.”