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Cedar Creel stumbles against Connally's trap defense

Updated: Feb 4

Connally's smothering defense limited Cedar Creek's Kenji Franklin to two points in the second half

By Jim Irish

Photos by Dustyn Werner

Cedar Creek was dazed by Connally’s half-court trap defense in a 48-42 District 23-5A loss at the Eagles gym on Tuesday.

Running the trap almost to perfection, the Cougars (17-10 overall, 7-3 district) had nine of their 12 steals in the second half.

Cedar Creek, on the other hand, committed 11 of its 17 turnovers in the second half. Most of the turnovers were bad passes against Connally’s smothering trap defense.

Leland Washington (left) contributed six points and 10 rebounds against Connally

The Eagles (21-9, 6-4) were in a position to win their fifth consecutive contest, taking a 36-31 with 5:41 remaining in the fourth quarter.

But the Cougars unleashed their trap defense, going on a 12-2 run. Cedar Creek coach Valentino Maxwell blamed the momentum change more on his team’s inability to snag a defensive rebound.

”They scored eight points off offensive rebounds,” Maxwell said. “All we gotta do is get a rebound, and it’s a different game.”

Cedar Creek actually won the battle of the boards 34 to 28 but couldn’t grab the crucial ones down the stretch.

Rebounding aside, Connally’s trap defense was effective.

”We know their guard, (Robert) Conrad, is a special player, so we were trying to slow him down before he got going downcourt,” Connally coach John Howie said. “We got them thinking east and west as opposed to going aggressively downcourt.”

"... All we gotta do is get a rebound, and it's a different game."

-- Cedar Creek coach Valentino Maxwell

Also a major factor in Connally’s win was its 3-2 matchup zone, which denied Cedar Creek threat Kenji Franklin, a 6-foot-5 junior, from getting touches in the second half. Franklin scored only two of his 14 points in the second half.

Connally’s Anthony Phagans fronted Franklin, while Joe Barnwell guarded behind Franklin.

”We were just fortunate that (Franklin) was having a hard time getting inside touches,” Howie said. “He’s such a big, strong kid. We knew if he gets touches inside the paint below the free throw line, we had some some problems matching up with him.”

Robert Conrad (right) fell short of his district-leading 21 points a game average

The double team on Franklin meant that another Cedar Creek player was unguarded. But the Eagles converted only 2-of-14 from three-point range. Braydon Adams, Cedar Creek’s best outside shooter after Conrad, missed the game because of an illness.

”We just couldn’t get (Franklin) the ball, Maxwell said. “(Connally) put one in front, one behind and said, ‘Somebody else do it.’ And that was it. We just didn’t make the plays.”

Maxwell added that Adams’ absence “hurt.”

Franklin earned a double-double with 13 rebounds and 14 points. Conrad contributed 13 points, seven rebounds, and two steals. Leland Washington added six points and 10 rebounds. Conrad and Franklin scored below their district averages of 21 and 17 points, respectively.

"We just couldn't get Franklin the ball."

-- Maxwell

Bryant, who played much of the second half with four fouls, led with 13 points, eight rebounds, and five steals. Howie played at the top of the zone defense to avoid a fifth foul.

”There’s no real way to foul when you’re that far away from the basket,” Maxwell said about Bryant.

Joshua Doe and Jordan Wright chipped in 11 and 10 points, respectively. Phagans played effectively with eight points and eight rebounds.

In an update, Cedar Creek defeated Elgin 68-50 on the road Friday to improve to 7-4 in district with games remaining against Georgetown, Bastrop, and Pflugerville.

Conrad scored a game-high 31 points to go with four assists and two steals. Franklin earned a double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds. He hit 8-of-9 shots from the field. Micah McDonald added 13 points.

Jim Irish is a freelance writer in Bastrop, Texas

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