By Brandon Speck
If you don’t want to know, don’t ask David Mason.
“They’re going to have to step up and play, the other ones who don’t score quite as much and don’t handle the ball quite as much,” the Blue Mountain coach said following Saturday’s loss to Booneville in the BIGG Christmas Classic.
His words were aimed at the players on his roster that simply put, aren’t scoring enough.
The Cougars (7-4, 1-0 Division 2-1A) cut a 20-point Booneville lead to four in the opening minute of the fourth quarter, but scored only two more points.
The guards are no secret. Ismael Ruedas is one of the top handling guards in North Mississippi and he and Jacob Girley can score at will. But the duo had 32 of Blue Mountains 39 points.
“I think the defense from the other teams is a little more focused toward our guards and people are finding out where we’re weak,” Mason said. “And it’s known.”
Booneville coach Michael Smith said attention to Girley and Ruedas can make it tough on rebounding.
“They’re very good, tremendously athletic,” Smith said. “They’ve got two kids that can score any night. Those kids can break you down and once you have to start doing a lot of help, you end up giving up offensive rebounds.”
Blue Mountain lost one player from a team that went 20-4 and put the Cougars back on the map.
The bigs weren’t as consistent as usual around the rim Saturday and Mason is shooting for more aggression – and points – from point guard Dontae Knox, who he said works hard. Knox has a full academic ride to Notre Dame, he just needs to take an extra athletic step.
“No different personnel-wise, just having to change a few things scheme-wise and that’s a difficult transition. They’re well aware of it,” Mason said. “But to put it into effect is a difficult thing. Because for six years, it’s been get the ball to Ismael Ruedas and Jacob Girley and go.”
The Cougars gave defending Class 2A champ Baldwyn all it wanted last week and hosts defending 1A champ Biggersville Jan. 17 – the Lions beat Blue Mountain three times last season.
“I’m a player’s coach and I’m going to shoot straight with you,” Mason said. “You may like me. You may dislike me, but I’m going to let you know where you stand and what you have to do to improve.”