By TYLER HENRY
Little Apple Post contributor
With the first of two matchups already in the books, the Rock Creek Mustangs and Wabaunsee Chargers will meet in Alma tonight, each looking to pick up steam as January basketball rolls on.
The Mustangs took the first meeting between these two in come-from-behind fashion 51-45, and will come into the second meeting at 6-2 riding a four-game winning streak that began with that win.
“I feel like we’re still getting better,” Rock Creek head coach Justin Smith said. “On the offensive end, the ball is moving better and guys are getting more confident. We’ve been pretty good on the defensive end as well. We still have to get guys to step up on the offensive end so we can get more consistency there.”
Since falling to the Mustangs, the Chargers have slid to 2-4 and will enter this contest on a three-game losing streak, but remain an incredibly talented squad still getting back into a rhythm after losing one of their best players in Eli Oliver for several early-season matchups.
“We’re having a hard time putting the ball in the hoop but our defense has been phenomenal,” Wabaunsee head coach Christian Ulsaker said. “We’re holding opponents to 45 points per game and despite our record, we’re still outscoring our opposition on average but we’re having a hard time scoring and we need to do a better job of dealing with adversity.”
Both teams are likely to face some of that adversity in this game, and the scoring struggles weren’t limited to Wabaunsee’s side of the first matchup. Rock Creek will need to establish that consistency themselves while limiting the play of guys like Eli Oliver on the other end.
“We really struggled offensively in that first game so we have to find some different ways to score the ball,” Smith said. “We also have to do a better job defending their best kids in Oliver and Schutter, they really hurt us in the first game. We also have to do a better job creating shots for ourselves.”
For Wabaunsee to even the season series and collect their first win of the new year, it will be essential that the Chargers keep a short memory and don’t allow Rock Creek to dictate the pace of this rematch.
“We have to keep our heads up when we make a mistake,” Ulsaker said. “Basketball is a fast game, you don’t have 40 seconds in a huddle or an inning or two before your next at-bat to deal with it. We don’t want to get into a full-court battle with Rock Creek. They have more depth than we do and they work really hard on their press. We have to try to limit possessions and control the pace.”
Tip-off between the Chargers and Mustangs is set for 7 pm at Wabaunsee High School following the girl's game at 6:30.
For continuing coverage of all four teams all season long, stay tuned to the Little Post, and follow us on Twitter @spostsports.