How to win a game
Nate Moses had a mountain to climb in his second year as the Edison boys basketball coach.
The first year produced three wins which, unfortunately, wasn’t all that unusual for the Wildcats.
They hadn’t seen a double-digit win season in a decade.
Not that they were all three-win seasons, mind you, but there wasn’t a winning season in the bunch.
What faced Moses was not teaching the boys how to better defend the pick-and-roll, how to run the break, block out or take a charge.
It was much tougher than that.
He had to somehow teach the boys how to win.
That, for sure, would not be easy.
And, it took all of one game to prove that point.
Edison outscored Toronto 21-4 in the third period to take a 59-37 lead into the final eight minutes.
That’s where the Red Knights outscored the Wildcats 37-13 in that frame to claim a 74-72 victory.
“That was a tough one,” Moses. “We had done so many good things through three quarters. We just couldn’t finish. We had to learn how to win.
“That game was the epitome of not knowing how to finish a game.”
Three days later, a 58-55 home win against Martins Ferry.
That was followed by a 66-62 loss at Beaver Local and a 66-63 home loss to St. Clairsville.
“Same thing in those two games,” said Moses.
Teaching boys how to break the 1-3-1 halfcourt trap is a lot easier than teaching the same kids poise and composure down the stretch.
It’s something a coach can say over and over and over and over, but the only way to truly learn is a hands-on approach.
And, that only comes by learning how to stop taking defeat from the jaws of victory.
Edison beat Buckeye Local at home then lost a heartbreaker (66-65) at Bellaire.
A 63-60 home win against Harrison Central opened some eyes.
Then came a 30-point loss at Martins Ferry.
More eyes popped with a seven-point win against visiting Bellaire after the Big Reds held an 18-point lead.
Of course, then came big losses at St. Clairsville and Harrison Central and a tough 3-point loss at home to No. 1-ranked Union Local.
“We were doing some really good things and I think we were just about ready to do something really good and we get blown out at St. C or Harrison,” said Moses. “We needed to get more consistent in playing four quarters of basketball.
“And, honestly, a lot of that is mental. You can’t go ‘woe is me’ when things don’t quite go your way. You have to fight through those things and we did a much better job of that late in the season.”
Edison finished the year winning six of its last eight games and avenged early season losses to Toronto and Beaver Local.
The Wildcats lost 61-52 to Cambridge in sectional play last week, but showed how far it had come in the process.
Edison trailed the Bobcats 25-13 at halftime and, in previous years, that would have been the game.
But, not this time.
Many coaches call the first three minutes of the second half the most important of the game and the Wildcats came out a different team.
Edison started the third quarter on a 14-4 run and Cambridge called a timeout up 29-27 with 4:30 left in the third period.
“You could see it in their faces in the first half – here it goes again,” said Moses. “Once we got a little confidence and started making shots, we got that look like ‘yeah, we can play with this team.’
“And we did.”
The next step is learning how to win on the road, where the Wildcats were 4-10 this year.
“We have taken a lot of strides this year,” said Moses. “There were a lot of positives.
“We learned how to win.”
Edison was 7-3 at home in a 10-13 season. It also started the season 2-7.
“Our freshman class coming in is the first boys basketball team at Edison – seventh, eighth, freshmen, sophomores, juniors, seniors – to have a winning season,” said Moses. “None of sophomores, juniors or seniors ever had a winning season from the seventh grade on up.
“If you were at our home games this year, you saw the community come out and support the team. The whiteout against Union Local was a great atmosphere. We packed the gym just about every time we played.”
Now, comes the really hard part.
Games are won and lost during the offseason. Yes, games are played from December though February, but every coach will tell you that the work put in over the summer has a direct correlation to the wins and losses during the season.
“Now, we have to work even harder,” said Moses, who obviously has the Wildcats on the right track. “It’s not magic. We’re not going to step on the floor next year and things will magically happen for us.
“We’ve been building. My first year during the summer we didn’t win a game and last summer we won three games. That’s building the program.
“I’m excited for what’s coming. I hate losing these seniors (Dylan Jones and Storm Allese) and what they have done for the program, but we have a lot of younger ones ready to come in and take their place.
“I’m looking forward to next year.”
(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter at @MathisonMike)