By Chris Chaney
The opening night of the 2013-14 Clermont Northeastern basketball season and the inaugural game for first-year head coach Darnell Parker began promising, but ended bitterly as the Rockets fell to Miami Valley Christian Academy, 63-61 in a game that needed overtime to declare a winner.
“I was extremely proud of the effort that our kids gave,” Parker said. “I think anyone who was there could see that the effort was there. We had double-digit steals and that’s just a compliment to our activity and aggressiveness on defense in both the full-court and the half-court.
“Of course, there are still some things that we need to work on — we fouled too much. Unfortunately for us, our inexperience reared its head towards the end of the game. That’s one thing we’re learning how to do — close games. I told the guys that we’re working in the right direction towards that. It’s my job as the leader of the program to do a better job of coaching those guys and getting them to where the next time we’re put into that situation, we have a different outcome.”
A balanced offensive attack coupled with the defensive intensity the coach mentioned put MVCA on their heels early. After a relatively even start, the Rockets opened up a comfortable margin in the second quarter led by senior guard Jay Teaney. Teaney scored a team-high 15 points, Zach Murray added 12, Nick Ernst had 11 and Patrick Kelley had 10.
The Rockets were able to crack the Lions’ full-court press to get easy shot opportunities on the offensive end, but a few bunnies missed kept MVCA in the game.
On the offensive end for the Lions, Gavin Carson was the most wanted man on CNE’s scouting report as the senior proved why going for 35 points.
“We were trying to make him take tough shots,” Parker said. “That’s what he did. All of his shots were extremely tough. Between Trey Amann, Darian Bullock and Jay Teaney, we chased that kid all over the floor. When a kid is really on fire like that, we have to try to make him take tough shots and get the ball out of his hands.”
While the effort and intensity were there for the Rockets, Parker pointed out that the learning curve of some inexperienced players coupled with the implementation of his new system will have its drawbacks in the early season, but he believes that going forward the impetus of the Rockets has to be placed upon themselves as opposed to their opponents.
“We need to be concerned with CNE,” Parker explained. “We’ve got to improve on everything from offense to defense to out-of-bounds plays. Early on in the season, I want our guys to concentrate on us.”
As Parker and his squad continue to put the onus on themselves to play their style, they will have their next opportunity to close out a game on Friday night, Dec. 6 when they travel to Felicity-Franklin to take on first-year head coach Bobby Sandker and the Cardinals.
“With Felicity, we know the environment is going to be really exciting and really hostile,” Parker said. “It’s their winter homecoming, so we’re looking at it as going into the hornet’s nest and we know they’re going to give great effort.”
The Rockets’ first Friday night game of the season also plays the role of their initial jaunt through the Southern Buckeye Conference’s National Division. Games at Williamsburg, versus Blanchester and Batavia and at Georgetown over the next two weeks round out their schedule leading up to the Hillsboro Holiday Shootout, which will close the chapter on the 2013 portion of their season.
Tip off on Friday, Dec. 6 at Felicity is slated for 7:30 p.m.