Foundation For The Future
Feb 22, 2016 05:22PM
● By Dia
Eric McDade is in his fourth year as head coach
And while the boys basketball program has seen some success in his tenure, it remains a work in progress. The Dragons have missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons and haven’t won a district title since 2002.
Southlake Carroll currently sits at 13-12 overall, and is in a dogfight to end its postseason hiatus. But with some late season progress, there is plenty to be optimistic about.
“We just want to continue to progress as a program,” McDade says. “I feel like our program has been on the rise. We just have to play a little bit better. But overall, we’ve been pleased with the way we’ve been able to progress.”
If there is one thing McDade knows how to do, it’s win. Prior to arriving at Southlake Carroll, McDade was considered one of the best coaches in the state. He led his teams to the playoffs in 12 of his 13 seasons as head coach, including a trip to the 2009 Class 4A state tournament at Mansfield Timberview.
Despite not having much playoff success at Southlake Carroll, McDade has formed a solid foundation in a program that has made incremental improvements. Every year under his watch, Southlake Carroll has finished .500 or better.
The Dragons, however, knew they had somewhat of an uphill battle this year after losing its two leading scorers in Kirk Mason and Hunter Summy. Still, McDade says he’s been impressed with how his team has come together.
“Leadership and experience should keep
helping this team,” McDade says. “They have
a point of reference. They know about the
grind and have experience. They know they
can’t take anything for granted in district
or get overconfident. They understand the
magnitude of every game.”
Southlake Carroll opened its 2015-16 season with a loss to Justin Northwest but showed some promise in the Magnolia Tournament in Houston as it split games and took down Katy Morton Ranch and Clear Springs.
The next three games served as gut punches for the Dragons. Southlake Carroll fell to both Grapevine and Plano West in overtime and missed an opportunity to knock off Trophy Club Byron Nelson in a four-point loss.
Southlake Carroll, however, rebounded in the Lions Club Tournament, defeating both El Paso Andress and Converse Judson before falling to Cedar Hill. After back-to-back wins over Houston Madison and Mansfield, Southlake Carroll looked like it was on the verge of a breakthrough.
Unfortunately for McDade and his squad, the Dragons took a wrong turn and suffered three straight losses to North Crowley, Parkview (Ark.) and Arlington Martin to close out non-district play.
“I think particularly in non-conference play, it’s really important to assess where you are,” McDade says. “You have to play strong competition to make sure you’re ready for district play and the grind of that. And we did play a really tough schedule.
“We played some of the best competition in the state. Region I in general has some of the best basketball and the Metroplex is loaded with talent. So we felt like we got ready for district.”
Senior guard Cooper Osburn adds:
“I think it’s helped us in district with end of game scenarios. We played a lot of athletic teams. Our district has some guards that are filling it up, but the non-district helped us by playing high level competition, so we can play with anyone in the state.”
Osburn is one of three three-year senior lettermen on this team—the other two are guard Tyson Smiter and guard/forward Lil’Jordan Humphrey. Fellow senior Joey McCormick has also been a big presence down low.
Their wealth of experience should come in handy as Southlake Carroll gets into the meat of district play.
Humphrey joined the team after a stellar senior season on the field. The 6-foot-5, 200-pounder racked up more than 2,000 yards of total offense and holds scholarships from California, Wisconsin, Texas and others.
With a little more than a month under his belt, Humphrey, who is the team’s top scorer, feels like he is now in full basketball mode.
“The biggest thing I had to get done was get my legs back,” Humphrey says. “I had to regain my ability to jump and get back my conditioning. I feel like I did that pretty fast, and now I’m focused on helping my team win.”
Southlake Carroll currently sits at 3-2 in district play after knocking off Richland, Colleyville Heritage and Haltom. Both of the Dragons’ losses to Euless Trinity and Coppell came by a combined four points.
With a little more luck, Southlake Carroll could easily be undefeated in district play. Smiter believes the team just needs to correct a few minor issues in order to avoid dropping key games down the stretch.
“Those two games we lost to Trinity and Coppell, we lost on our own,” he says. “We turned the ball, missed free throws and did those types of things that you can’t do. Coming into the second half, we just have to correct those things.”
The Dragons were in a similar position at this point in the year last season but failed to make the playoffs. But this season’s team just has a different vibe.
“It’s been tough because you’re right there, and you don’t get over the hump,” Smiter says. “This year, we’re in the same place. Being that last year we didn’t make the playoffs, it’s a different mindset because you know you have to go hard in the second half of district or you won’t be in the playoffs.”
Coming off back-to-back district wins, Smiter adds that the team goal is to win out and head into the playoffs on a nine-game winning streak. But McDade doesn’t want the team to get too far ahead of itself.
His golden rule: Take it one game at a time.
“The biggest key for us now is to just take it one game at a time,” McDade says. “We just want to stay in the moment and not look ahead. We want to enjoy the year, play our best basketball in this stretch run and create some excitement.”
Lil’Jordan Posts Big Stats
Behind Lil’Jordan Humphrey, the 2015 7-6A Offensive Player of the Year, Southlake Carroll’s football team averaged 42 points per game. The bruising 6-5 athlete left it all out on the field for head coach Hal Wasson accounting for 2,182 yards of total offense and 22 touchdowns. Humphrey rushed at an impressive 7.1 yards per carry for 1,306 yards and 14 touchdowns. He also topped the team with 57 receptions, eight of which were for scores.
When it comes to basketball, Lil’Jordan’s just as potent. He is head coach Eric McDade’s top returning scorer from the 2014-15 season.