After their first meeting in the Benton Pre-Holiday Tournament, the Sheridan Yellowjackets (10-6, 0-2) got the best of the Watson Chapel Wildcats (8-8, 1-1), outscoring them 55-46.
Since then, the Wildcats have picked up five of their eight wins while only dropping two games.
Wildcats Head Coach Marcelle Goins said that keeping his guys healthy over the holiday break was key. It's been tough with guys having to miss due to being sick or injured, but they've weathered the storm.
"We've been just trying to be healthy over the break," Goins said. "Majority of the kids have been sick and dealing with injuries."
In practice, Goins steadily preaches defense; he wants his team to be known as a defensive powerhouse. Now that the Wildcats are in conference play, the competition has stiffened from a night-to-night basis.
"We've been harping on defense," Goins said. "In conference, all the games will be close, and it'll come down to who can guard somebody. With the way we play, we want to pressure you and not turn the ball over."
It's not only something that Goins feels they need to improve on, it's what he wants the build the program around defense.
"I want us to be known for straight defense," Goins said. "It doesn't matter who is scoring the most points. The objective of the game is to keep opponents from scoring more than you do."
Looking back on the earlier meeting against the Yellowjackets, Goins was disappointed to speak on their performance. Although they didn't shoot well, only making 14-60 of their shots from the field, it was still a single-digit ball game.
"Sheridan beat us earlier in the year in the Benton tournament," Goins said. "We didn't value the basketball, and we had a horrible shooting performance. We were 14-60 from the field and still lost by nine. We just have to keep their guys in front of us.
As for the Wildcats’ personnel, they're still in search of a go-to leader, according to Goins.
"We actually are still searching that guy," Goins said. "Having a leader is something we talked about in practice today. Guys are still inconsistent from a play and leadership standpoint. We're going to need that, all the games are important from here on out."
The Yellowjackets are under the stewardship of Head Coach Joe Scott.
Scott has talent on this Sheridan team, and Goins pointed out their big man Tyler Cacciatori and their guard Tyler Cleveland as guys that produce for them.
Sheridan travels to Watson Chapel for a 7 p.m. tipoff tonight.