Mustangs playing well early
By L. Scott Hainline
If necessary, Friendswood coach Darren Chandler would pay to see his Mustangs play.
I like this team a lot," he said. They're fun to watch."
Friendswood's 14-4 overall start included a 47-30 District 24-4A-opening home victory against Santa Fe last week.
It wasn't much of an offensive game, but it was a win," said Chandler, who has been with the program 10 years and is in his eighth as head coach.
For years, the Mustangs have hung their hat on defense, and according to the man in charge, they're using the same peg once again.
We've continually stressed that if you guard people, you always have a good chance to win," Chandler said. Even if you struggle offensively, which we've been doing lately, you have a shot if you play on the defensive end."
Friendswood's starting lineup of seniors Mark Garza (6-8 post), Byron Randle (6-3 point guard) and Connor Neuman (6-0 guard), and juniors Jackson Griffon (6-4 guard) and Nolan Harvey (6-2 guard) was altered when Harvey missed time with a broken wrist in early December.
But without hardly missing a beat, junior James Petri (5-11 guard) stepped in to fill the void.
We went 8-3 when Harvey was out," Chandler said. But even though Petri did a great job, we're glad to have (Harvey) back in place for district."
Petri still gets plenty of minutes, as do other top reserves like juniors Dylan Darden (6-3 forward) and Kevin Wilson (6-3 guard), and footballers Shane Bergeson (6-2 guard), Pete Maetzold (6-2 guard) and Keith Canada (6-3 forward).
Garza, who had a school-record 24 rebounds to go along with 17 points in a recent win against Mayde Creek, is one of four returning starters with Randle (committed to Sam Houston), Neuman and Harvey.
The experience they bring helps a lot," Chandler said. We have four or five guys who could average 14 or 15 points, but they don't get that every night because we get the ball to whoever has the hot hand.
Just like against Santa Fe, our leading scorer, Randle (16 per outing), ended up with two, but we still won by 17."
In the final 2009 Texas Association of Basketball Coaches Class 4A state rankings, released Dec. 21, Friendswood was 11th with District 24-4A co-member La Marque at No. 3.
La Marque is at Friendswood on Jan. 15 in the first of two league meetings (the other is Feb. 9 in La Marque), but there's no way the Mustangs are looking ahead.
We have a very good Manvel team coming in Friday night and we play at Brazosport Tuesday, and they can be very dangerous," Chandler said. Night in and night out, you have to focus. That's a must in our district, and after a tough pre-district schedule, we feel like we're ready to do that."
The Mustangs placed second in the Alvin Classic silver division last week, finished second at this season's Corpus Christi ISD Invitational, and recorded what Chandler described as great wins" over Dickinson and Clear Springs prior to league play.
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