Having five games in seven days isn’t easy to recover from physically but it may be even more difficult to bounce back mentally when none of the results falls your way. Both Stanhope Elmore basketball teams are now challenged with doing just that as the Mustangs were swept by Carver on Monday night, extending each of their losing streaks.
“The NBA doesn’t even play like that,” Stanhope Elmore girls coach Kelvin Stokes said. “It makes it tough when you have to reschedule area games and you have tough opponents like a ranked Carver team. You try to take what you can off of these games and try to build off of it.”
The girls (5-11) lost their fifth game in a row in a 72-35 loss to Carver. The Mustangs were outscored by 23.4 points per game during the streak and Stokes believes he has pinpointed what the problem has been.
“We have to take care of the basketball,” Stokes said. “Turnovers is the biggest thing for us. I think we can score the ball really well when we take care of the ball. We got out of sync because of that.”
Stanhope Elmore had 24 miscues against Carver, allowing the Wolverines to run away in the first half and leave little chance of a comeback. Brooke Burkett scored 13 of her team-high 16 points in the second half but it was not enough to get the Mustangs within striking distance.
The loss marked the first time the Mustangs have played against a team ranked in the top 10 of the Alabama Sports Writers Association rankings. Carver, which was No. 10 in Class 6A, provided a good experience for the Mustangs and Stokes said he hopes his players have learned something.
“You just have to compete against them,” Stokes said. “You have to learn from the intensity of the game against a team like that. You have to match that.”
Stanhope has also dropped games to Selma, 67-30; Jeff Davis, 54-43; and Prattville, 49-41, in the last week.
While the losses appear brutal on paper, Stokes is not worried about his team’s ability to bounce back mentally.
“We’re down one night but we can come back and play well the next night,” Stokes said. “I don’t think mentally they are out of it. I think they can bounce back and we’ll be fine. There’s no time for the weary. The best thing about this game is that it’s over.”
The boys team (6-16) knew Monday’s game would be a challenge after losing to Carver by 30 points in the first meeting. The Mustangs battled for 32 minutes and had the deficit down to one in the final 50 seconds but it was not enough as Carver came away with a 62-58 victory, extending Stanhope’s losing streak to five games.
“I hope the team can build off of this,” Stanhope coach Terry Hardy said. “I have been crying for the end of the season and the end of January but it’s here. We don’t have next month to get better so we need it right now. We played a little harder so hopefully we can take something from that.”
Stanhope’s offense got off to a slow start, scoring just four points in the first nine minutesand never fully recovered. DJ Jamerson led the Mustangs with 21 points but no one else reached double figures.
“We played better on defense but at the end of the day, you have to put the ball in the basket,” Hardy said. “We only made a couple of shots in that first quarter. We have to emphasize that. We’re still growing but this was encouraging.”
Stanhope has lost three of its last five games by single digits, including two defeats to Selma. The Mustangs also scored a season-low 38 points in a loss at Prattville on Saturday.
The Mustangs are turning their focus to the Class 6A Area 5 tournament. Hardy said he would love to win a couple of games to take some momentum into the playoffs but at the end of the day, the regular season won’t count anyway.
“When we get in the area tournament, this doesn’t matter,” Hardy said. “Everybody is 0-0 and if you lose, you go home. I have been preaching that all year so we just want to get hot at the right time.”