Although the Princeton Day School boys’ basketball team has started the season by losing its first four games, Paris McLean is far from discouraged.
“We are playing well for most of the games but we are giving up one big quarter and that is hurting us,” said head coach McLean. “Teams are having 20-point quarters and we are digging ourselves a hole.”
At the Peddie School Invitational Tournament (PSIT), the Panthers showed character as they rebounded from a lopsided defeat to the Phelps School in the first round to battle cross-town rival Hun School in a consolation contest.
“The number one thing I have learned about this team is that we are resilient,” asserted McLean, whose team fell 65-46 to Hun.
“When you a lose a tough game like we did to Phelps, you don’t know what kind of team is going to come out the next day. We came out and played Hun tough. We were more disciplined on offense and we were steadier on defense. We played well.”
While the Panthers came up empty at the PSIT, McLean views the tourney as a key learning experience.
“It is fantastic competition, it is the best competition we are going to see all year,” said McLean.
“It is an honor to be invited. It is a good measuring stick of where we are and what we need to improve on.”
In its final action before Christmas, the Panthers showed more improvement as they dropped a 58-52 nailbiter at Conwell-Egan (Pa.) last Wednesday.
“We came out and built a six or seven point lead,” recalled McLean. “But then they went ahead by 15. We battled it back and cut it to five. When you fight back like that, you get spent and the kids run out of gas. Everyone played and some guys really stepped up.”
Senior guard Ford Schneider has been stepping up big time this winter for PDS.
“Ford was all-tournament at Peddie and that is a testament to the hard work he has put in,” said McLean.
“Ford has been fantastic for us. He is a do-it-all player; he goes to the basket. He gets rebounds, he is more confident offensively.”
The backcourt tandem of seniors Deante Cole and Zach Banks has earned McLean’s confidence.
“Deante has been great,” said McLean of Cole who had 17 points in the defeat to Conwell-Egan.
“He has been very aggressive, he has been going to the basket and facilitating things. Zach has been good in relief, doing some ballhandling so Deante can play off guard at times.”
In McLean’s view, the holiday break comes at a good time for PDS since such key players like Langston Glaude, J.P. Radvany, and Josiah Meekins have missed time due to injury.
“It will be good to rest guys and get some guys practice-ready,” said McLean. “It is a great time to rest mentally and physically and reflect on things.”
As PDS returns to action by competing in the Prime Time Shoot-Out on December 27 and 29, McLean wants the team to focus on a few key things.
“We need to get leads and keep them,” said McLean. “The defensive intensity has to step up; that starts in practice. We can’t let other teams have those big quarters; we need to stem that.”
McLean is hoping that his team can enjoy another big run at the Prime Time event.
“We are excited to go back to the Prime Time as defending champions,” said McLean. “We will play Rancocas Valley in the first round and we know they are a tough Group IV team.”