• June 4, 2020

HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL: Odessa High set for bi-district road test at El Paso Americas - Odessa American: Oavarsity

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HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL: Odessa High set for bi-district road test at El Paso Americas

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Posted: Monday, February 24, 2020 8:44 pm

Odessa High boys basketball coach Neal Welch says he’s seen his players grow up a lot over the course of the regular season.

He understands, however, that there are bigger tests ahead for the Bronchos.

The latest one comes on the road as Odessa High faces District 1-6A champion El Paso Americas at 7 p.m. Tuesday in El Paso in the Class 6A bi-district round.

The Bronchos are back in the postseason after a one-year absence and Welch says he’s emphasized embracing the opportunity to play in what he calls the “third season.”

“Getting to the postseason is a good accomplishment,” Welch said. “But we want to win now in the playoffs.”

The Bronchos (14-18 overall) didn’t have to sweat out their postseason fate entering the regular-season finale against Amarillo Tascosa. Odessa High clinched the No. 4 seed with a 74-67 victory over Midland High Feb. 14.

But Welch wanted to see his team continue to play with consistency, which is what he saw in the first half against the Rebels Feb. 18. The Bronchos faded away in the second half, falling 91-65.

The head coach says he simply wants to see his team put things together for all 32 minutes.

“We were down 38-35 at halftime against the co-district champions and I thought that was our best half of basketball for the year,” Welch said. “We just have to be consistent for the entire game.”

That consistency will be tested against a Trailblazers (22-11) team that runs an offense that is a 180-degree difference for what the Bronchos bring.

While Welch will want his team to get out and run, Americas will work the offense at a much slower pace.

Case in point: Americas won a game 19-17 early in the season against El Paso Parkland in nondistrict play.

“They are very methodical and run that offense to a tee,” Welch said of the Trailblazers. “They’ll hold the ball for three minutes at a time and play really slow, which is the total opposite of what we’re trying to do.

“They’re a very smart team that doesn’t make mistakes and so we have to be disciplined the whole way.”

Welch believes that the Bronchos are up for the challenge of playing in a road environment for the postseason.

He acknowledged that the Bronchos have been pretty solid on the road and knows that getting off to a good start will be an important factor.

“If we can score early and make them play at our pace, I like our chances,” Welch said. “I’m hoping we can get out and play the same way we did to start against Tascosa. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”

Odessa, TX

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