Consistency has been the reason Randy Roden has taken so many deep sighs from the Kelly Walsh bench in the first seven games of the season.
One instance came last Tuesday when the Trojans were down 11 in the second quarter against Cheyenne East, only to erase that deficit and tie the game in less than 4 minutes.
“The first half I felt good about our defense, I thought we did some good things offensively to get back into it,” Roden said. “But the second half we scored five points in 10-and-a-half minutes or something like that and you can’t do that against a team that’s that talented.”
Cheyenne East outscored Kelly Walsh 35-22 in the second half, including a 22-5 run that incorporated the entire third quarter, to hand the Trojans their fourth loss of the young season at Kelly Walsh High School, 62-47.
A rough start to the year was expected, considering the Trojans lost their top seven players from last year’s state championship team to graduation. Juniors Davion McAdam, Ross Padilla and Sage Coventry were the only three returners to play in more than seven games last year.
McAdam has materialized as the go-to man for the Trojans, averaging 19.2 points per game before scoring a game-high 22 on Tuesday night. Padilla adds another threat with 13.7 points per contest, but those two are the only ones to average more than 5.4 points per game.
Kelly Walsh has scored 60 points or more just once this year, which came in a 63-62 loss to Jackson.
“We know we’re scoring-deprived, and with those shots that we missed they ended up getting transition points and (the game) got out of hand,” Roden said.
Apart from McAdam, only junior Connor Shopp scored in double figures (11), the most he’s scored this season.
Inconsistencies in scoring have been another frustrating part of the season’s infancy.
“We get a couple guys moving in another good direction and the other three aren’t,” Roden said. “We can’t seem to find all of us fulfilling our roles at the same time. That’s one of the things coming out of break we’re going to have to address is player roles and what we’re trying to do offensively.”
Roden, who is now in his seventh year at the helm of the program, has typically built his winning teams on defensive. He tries to instill his defensive mentality into his players, who feed off turnovers and stops in order to spark the transition offense.
But this year is different and he was aware of that early on.
“We’ve seen since these guys are freshmen that they feed off of offense,” Roden said. “This team needs to score to play well on the defensive end.”
With the long winter break ahead before the Cheyenne Invitational to start 2018, the cold-shooting streak may continue by the time the Trojans open the conference season on Jan. 19 at rival Natrona County.
But despite the eighth-best scoring offense in Class 4A, there is reason to believe in the Trojans. They were able to hang with Laramie, Billings (Montana) West and East until allowing a run early in the fourth quarter.
They have also showed a fighting spirit down to the final horn.
With 6 seconds remaining in last Tuesday’s loss, McAdam plucked an offensive rebound out of the air from a missed free throw and started falling sideways before throwing the put-back up for the final points of the game. Roden couldn’t contain a smile as he paced the sidelines.
“I still think our ceiling is really high,” KW’s head coach said. “I like how our guys are doing things at certain times, it’s just that we need to be a little bit more consistent.”