Indians struggling early with finding identity, jam-packed schedule

The gauntlet of their early-season schedule has left the Indian River High School boys’ basketball team trying to find an identity, while also working to grow in new head coach Devin Mann’s program with virtually an entirely new roster of players.

The Indians found themselves playing four games in the first week of the season with just two days of practice amongst those games. With a young, inexperienced team, practice time is usually more valuable, to prevent growing pains and get everyone on the same page.

Growing pains — Mann certainly attributed IR’s 59-26 setback to Delmar on Tuesday, Dec. 10, to those.

“It’s 100-percent growing pains,” first-year head coach Mann said after the Delmar game. “We couldn’t throw it in the ocean,” he added of the Tuesday-night game, “particularly in the second half. At halftime, we talked about executing to get good looks.

“We did things solid but couldn’t buy a basket. I mean point-blank looks at the rim were popping out. We saw some good things tonight, though. We saw more intensity, saw more chemistry and saw more understanding. We are just starting at a deficit, with the lack of experience. Having four games in six days doesn’t help, either, with little prep time between competitions to fix things. One more game Saturday,” he said of the Dec. 14 matchup, “then we get two weeks to prepare for the Governor’s Challenge, but ultimately to grow as a unit.”

Falling behind 16-4 through the first quarter, and then 30-10 at the halftime break, the Indians were playing catch-up the rest of the way. Junior Gage Spinks led the way offensively as the Indians’ lone double-figure scorer, with 10 points in the game. Malachi Waters, Matt Engel, Joshua Townsend, Jamie Burns and Ja’siah Rounds also scored for the Indians.

Delmar’s Cameron Bozman scored a game-high 12, while Jeremiah Beale was right behind with 10 of his own, to lead the Wildcats.

IR picked up their first win of the season on Saturday, Dec. 7, in a 66-43 decision over Worcester Prep in the Delmarva Christian Tip-Off Classic Tournament.

After battling to a 14-12 advantage through the first quarter, the Indians turned things on in the middle two frames, outscoring the Mallards 38-15 to take control of the close game.

Spinks scored a team- and game-high 20 points that included a pair of three-balls from beyond the arc. Ja’chi Duncan chipped in with eight points, while Rounds and Qui’mine Jacobs added seven points each.

The Indians (1-3 overall) dropped the first game of the DC Tip-Off Classic to the host, 72-37.

They will travel to Seaford for their last game, on Saturday, Dec. 14, at 2:30 p.m., before a two-week break from game action as they prepare for the Governor’s Challenge, beginning on Saturday, Dec. 28. They will play Benjamin Franklin High School of Maryland at the James M. Bennett High School site in Berlin, Md., in their opener. Tip-off will be at 1:30 p.m.


By Jason Feather
Staff Reporter