What does a head coach who’s never been to the playoffs tell his players about the playoffs?
It’s something the eight seniors on this team can relate to.
“I’ve talked to a lot of coaches who have been in my position and I just try to heed their advice and make it fun for the guys,” BSHS boys’ basketball head coach Cliff Thompson said. “For a lot of them, I just make sure they’re enjoying it because it’s the last time they’ll get to do this. For me, it’s a learning process, for them it’s the only chance they get.”
Today’s matchup will be the first playoff game Thompson has ever been a part of as a coach in his career, which is a young one. He’s hoping to lead his senior-laden squad past a Bowie team that’s seemed to find its stride at the right time.
The Steers face Bowie at 6 p.m. today at Cisco High School in Cisco.
A week ago, the Steers were expecting to face either Graham or Iowa Park in the bi-district round of the playoffs, but all that changed when Bowie — a team picked to finish last in its district — beat both of those teams to clinch a berth. Bowie is an underdog of sorts.
Thompson said a team like that at this point in the season is dangerous, but he believes the Steers have everything in place to win today’s game.
With this being his first playoff game, Thompson said he’s had to learn a few new lessons himself, besides scouting Bowie.
“I’ve got nerves,” he said. “I’m trying to figure out how to keep the focus on this team, but at the same time prepare for the next since we’ve only got a couple of days. That’s been kind of an interesting dynamic for me. Focus on Bowie, but at the same time, I’ve got to make sure I’m getting film ready this week if we end up winning.”
At this point in the season, standout guard Luke Adams is a targeted man and Thompson expects Bowie to defend him like most teams have all season: the box-and-1 defense.
This is where Marc Segundo and Tristian Clay come in. Thompson said their performances will be key the more teams try to limit Adams in the playoffs.
The Steers saw what that could be like in the second game against Snyder in district play. Segundo got hot and scored 29 points, thanks in part to the attention placed on Adams. Thompson believes good shooting nights from those three make Big Spring tough to beat.
Those three also have some experience their teammates haven’t really had yet: the playoffs.
While this team is packed with seniors, some of them are new faces to the team.
The junior Segundo and seniors Clay and Adams were on last year’s playoff team that reached the area championship round in Class 4A.
Thompson said what happened last year isn’t much of a topic, but he has talked to his players about going as deep as they can in the playoffs.
“I try to talk to them about having high expectations, but a lot of these guys weren’t on varsity last year, so this is kind of a new experience for them — except for Marc and Tristian and Luke,” he said. “I think they’re just kind of enjoying it, which is good.”