Offensive struggles plague T-Birds
By Mitchell Roland - Staff Reporter
The Highline's men's basketball team has hit a rough patch lately.
As they begin conference play, the team is on a four-game losing streak, and has lost six of its last seven games. The Thunderbirds' losses have come by an average of roughly 11 points.
Their latest loss dropped them to five wins and 11 losses on the year, and 0-2 in conference play.
Coach Che Dawson said that the team is performing well on defense, but they have to "be much more efficiently offensively."
The toughest loss for the team came on Dec. 18, as the team fell behind 56-37 after the first half, before outscoring Chemeketa by 17 points in the second half and then losing by two points.
David Harris led the team with 25 points and 10 rebounds in the game, and was five of seven from three-point range.
Their lone win came in a road game against Clark. Highline took a commanding 42-23 lead into halftime, and did not look back. The final score was 83-60.
Harris has been Highline's hot hand during this seven-game skid, averaging 18.3 points and 8.3 rebounds a game.
Harris's best game came in the win against Clark, as he scored 26 points on 11-22 shooting, and made four of eight three pointers. He also added 14 rebounds, four assists, and three steals.
Guard Travis Rice has been a key player off the bench, shooting 45 percent from three-point range and shooting almost exclusively treys.
In a recent game against the South Puget Sound Clippers, Rice came off the bench to score 15 points on five of seven three-point shooting.
In the game, the Clippers took an early double-digit lead, before Highline stormed back to take a lead with 1:13 left in the first half. This lead did not last however, as the Clippers made a buzzer-beater at the end of the first half to take a one-point lead into the break.
The Thunderbirds again took the lead early in the second half, before the Clippers switched to a full-court press defense, which Highline struggled to adjust to.
The result was the Clippers taking a 12-point lead with 5:34 left in the game, and culminated in a Highline timeout after a stolen inbound pass and a shot made by the Clippers.
Highline was unable to make the necessary adjustments after the timeout, and fell to the Clippers 80-65.
The Clippers' win was a team effort for them, as four of their starters scored double digit points.
While the Thunderbirds are young, Coach Dawson does not pin all their struggles on that, saying that many teams at this level are young.
"We have to be tougher mentally to deal with the tough schedule we have," Dawson said. "We need to understand that to be the best, it takes work, perseverance, commitment and a collective purpose."
Highline continued conference play with a home game against Grays Harbor last night. Results from the game were not available at the time of publication.
The Thunderbirds next play Saturday at 2 p.m. against Green River in the Thunder Dome on campus. The team then takes on Pierce College on the road on Wednesday at 8 p.m.