This is what Yates basketball coach Greg Wise has been waiting for all season â€“ the playoffs.
Yates, the top-ranked Class 3A school in Texas, advanced to the Class 4A state championship game last season before succumbing to Dallas Kimball. That loss didnâ€™t set well with the Lions.
In the University Interscholastic Leagueâ€™s latest re-alignment, Yates dropped from Class 4A to 3A, and immediately became a prohibitive favorite to win the state title. The Lions won back-to-back state titles in 2009-2010.
Wise says the goal is still the same, only some of the dynamics have changed. The Lions go into the playoffs with an overall record of 27-4, including a perfect 14-0 in District 23-3A.
Wise shared his thoughts on playoff preparation with the Houston Defender recently.
Defender: With the move to Class 3A this season, is it tougher to scout possible playoff opponents?
Wise: The only tougher part about it is that we have to travel further to reach some of the outlying schools. If you want to win and you want to be the best, I look at that as a minor obstacle, you just have to drive a little further. In the past, we could leave after our game and go scout another game. Thatâ€™s nearly impossible now. We have to scout on days that we donâ€™t play. We used to see some schools play seven or eight times during the season, we only see them two or three times now.
HD: Who are some of the schools you anticipate meeting in the playoffs?
Wise: I think Class 3A is a lot tougher this year than it normally is. We could see Silsbee and either West Orange-Stark or Hardin Jefferson in our first two playoff games. Cleveland is another good team along with La Marque on the other side of the playoff bracket.
HD: Are you still making some adjustments to your defensive schemes?
Wise: We changed up our press in the fourth quarter of our last game and it was in a different way than weâ€™ve done it all season. I think we may need that adjustment in the playoffs.
HD: Howâ€™s the health of the Lions going into the playoffs?
Wise: â€śJ.C. Washington hurt his nose and thatâ€™s why he wearing a mask. So weâ€™re trying to get him ready for the playoffs. Other than him, weâ€™re healthy and ready to go.â€ť
DARRELL K. ARDISON