Odessa High boys basketball head coach Anthony Dees has learned a lot about his team this season.
During the nondistrict part of the schedule, he’s seen the team make strides but also knows that there is still plenty of room to get better.
“We’re still continuing to grow,” he said. “It’s been a progressive year and now it’s time to see if we can make a playoff push.”
That push starts when the Bronchos (8-15 overall) host Midland High (12-10) in the District 2-6A opener at 7:30 tonight at the Odessa High Fieldhouse.
“We’re all 0-0 now,” junior forward Louis Wilson said. “The focus switches quick because of how important each district game is.”
In a way, Friday’s game does mark the beginning of a new season.
It’s a chance to take the lessons learned from nondistrict play into games where there is more on the line.
One thing that may help is the Bronchos are entering the start of district play on a good note, having defeated Lubbock Christian, 59-58, last Friday in a back-and-forth battle.
“That was a big win for us,” senior guard Kaleb Murry said. “We know that we’re entering district play with some confidence.”
That confidence is something that Dees hopes can spark his team moving forward.
“It helps us a lot to show that we can win,” Dees said. “We did a good job on offense but we need to do a much better job defensively.
He added, “Going forward, we need to do a good job of giving ourselves a chance to win some of these district ballgames.”
Murry and Wilson are among the players that are expected play key roles for the Bronchos in district play.
For Wilson, he’s working at being a stronger presence in the low post.
“I have to be a leader on the floor,” Wilson said. “I’m the big man so I have to take control on defense and be ready on offense.”
Wilson is coming off a season-high 13 points in the win over Lubbock Christian where he was 6-of-7 from the floor.
Dees is pleased to see the progress coming from the junior who also started on the offensive line for the football team this past season.
“He’s grown a lot since he started,” Dees said of Wilson. “He’s pushing himself to give max effort constantly and we’ll need more of what he did last Friday.”
As for Murry, the senior will look to create opportunities for teammates, along with being one of the main scoring options.
He’s looking to make the most of his final year in high school.
“I just look at this as my last ride,” Murry said. “I don’t get a second chance at this so I have to keep pushing and making the most of it.”
He added, “We just have to feed off of every game. If we can pull off a win, we can take that mindest into the next game.”
The first opportunity comes Friday against a Midland High squad that features an athletic scorer in Rahkeim Petterson and a 6-8 low post presence in Brett Canis.
Dees knows that his team will have to put their best foot forward if they want to come out on top.
“Midland High is very athletic and they can shoot,” Dees said of the Bulldogs. “They’ve played some great competition during the nondistrict schedule so I see a good game ahead.
“It’s going to be a battle for 32 minutes so we have to make sure that we’re ready.”
>>Follow Tony Venegas on Twitter at @OA_TVenegas