Jones: Gators' improved work on the boards pays dividends
By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on February 14, 2014 1:49 PM
SEVEN SPRINGS -- Taylor Jones repeatedly uses one phrase -- hard work -- to describe the Spring Creek varsity boys' basketball team.
The Gators have persevered through injuries and countless weather-related changes that have taken away valuable practice time. Despite the adversity, they've risen to fourth place in the Carolina 1-A Conference standings.
Jones' team uses the "lunch-pail mentality" that entails defense, boxing out on the boards and unselfish play. Spring Creek (10-8 overall, 6-5 Carolina) might not put together visually-pleasing victories, but it's more than content with an ugly 'W.'
"While I am very happy for the things that stand out to the fans and the flashy things that look good, I just believe it is important to know that this truly is a team that goes beyond the numbers," Jones said. "They talk, box out, hustle and play with unselfishness that I can't help but praise."
Spring Creek's defense forces 15 turnovers a game and it holds oppposing teams to 49 points a game.
The Gators have gone from getting out-rebounded on the boards by eight per game to a plus-two margin. The difference has been offensive rebounds, which have led to second-chance points -- a stat that didn't favor Jones' team during the early part of the season.
"One of the areas we were most concerned about as the season began was rebounding," Jones said. "We have continued to emphasize it and we have become a team that has been plus-two on the glass in conference play."
Former soccer player Brandon Gonzalez leads Spring Creek with 14 points a game, and has scored 48 total points in his last two outings. The junior guard also averages six rebounds, four steals and three assists.
Gonzalez spent countless hours in the gym during the summer and fall. He worked tirelessly to improve his jump shot, his dribble penetration and his defense.
"Brandon has really improved because he works hard," Jones said. "When you spend two or three hours a day in the gym, you can't help but get better. He goes to Mount Olive and plays against the guys on the JV team. He's really dedicated himself and his hard work is paying off."
Spring Creek's 10 wins are the most produced by any team during the past six seasons. Jones said this group is eager to leave its stamp on 2014.
"If I had to peg one thing that makes this team the most unique from past years it is that we don't have shooting guards, point guards or centers," said Jones, whose team has improved its team scoring by seven points a game since Christmas.
"We have players. We emphasize team first, care about defense and play with enthusiasm every day. We are still wanting a lot more."
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