It didn’t take me long, or head coach Delmar Wilson long to figure it out as well.
Last week’s Region 4-8A quarterfinal basketball game between Miami Springs and defending state champion Hialeah Gardens in Gardens’ gym was only about five minutes old and the outcome was becoming pretty apparent.
Despite the Gladiators being without their top player, center Alvaro Simoza who had suffered an injured knee a few days earlier, the inexperienced Hawks were in way over their heads.
Thanks to poor shot selection, a bushel full of turnovers and virtually no ball movement, they found themselves down 16-4 after the first quarter on their way to a 55-31 loss.
“I was hoping for something different but I knew very early in the game that the kids were just tight and nervous,” said Wilson who had the Hawks back in the regional playoffs for the first time since the T.Y. Hilton days in 2007. “The combination of that and then walking into the gym of the defending state champions was a lot for them to handle. There is no way you can simulate something like that, no matter how much you try and prepare them for it. There is absolutely no substitute for experience and we found that out the hard way tonight.”
With Simoza out, there was the thought that the Hawks could get something done inside but it was never going to happen thanks to Gardens senior Adrian Gonzalez who dominated all night long. Gonzalez not only killed Springs by scoring more than half of his team’s points (28) but also led the way in rebounds pulling down 11 boards.
Despite incredibly cold shooting, the Hawks still only trailed 26-12 at halftime and when Victor Troya nailed a three ball to begin the second half to make it 26-15, a comeback was not out of the question. But Gonzalez took over from there leading Gardens on a 17-6 run (scoring a dozen of those points) to close out the third quarter with a 43-21 lead leaving both coaches with nothing more to worry about than when to empty the bench.
“We had a great year and I’m really proud of my teammates and what we accomplished,” said Troya who led all Hawks scorers by far with 14 points. “We played hard tonight but we just came out and didn’t do what we do best and that’s move the ball around which creates opportunities for us.”
“The one thing I preached all week leading up to the game was ball movement,” said Wilson. “We’re not a team that has some big stud you can just dump the ball to underneath. We’ve been a finesse team all year that needs to work to create opportunities but that simply never happened tonight. I’m still proud of the kids though. It was a great groundbreaking season for us and hopefully we’ve laid the groundwork for success in the future.”