Tuesday was Game 2 for Bill Eller being back on the sideline as a head basketball coach.
“I was nervous as heck in the first one,” Eller said Tuesday night after his Trojans belted Hixson, 53-31, behind the potent one-two scoring punch of Josh Davis and Doug Volker. “But this is my 29th year coaching. It’s like riding a bicycle and once the ball is tipped, it’s about the boys and not me.”
Eller’s boys shook off a sluggish first quarter, turned up the offensive heat to take a 21-11 halftime lead and cruised to the finish line with an impressive 22-point win that leveled the team’s early season record at 2-2.
In the girls’ game, the Lady Trojans shook off an 11-minute scoreless debacle on Monday in a loss at Red Bank, outscored Hixson, 41-21, over the final 24 minutes, turning a 20-8 lead into a runaway 61-24 victory.
The Trojans were led by Davis’ game-high 15 points and Volker added 13.
Soddy-Daisy’s offensive consistency so far this season has been one of the bright spots for a team that went 2-24 last season.
Soddy-Daisy has scored 63 and 53 points in its two wins and 43 and 49 in a pair of losses.
Eller and the Trojans are looking for more efforts that resulted in wins over Boyd-Buchanan and Hixson. The losses to Notre Dame and Red Bank were by a combined eight points.
“We played smart tonight,” Davis said. “A big thing for us is positioning and if we do that right it doesn’t matter how athletic you are, how high you can jump, we’ll battle you. Down low, we’ll pump-fake you to score inside and play smart doing what needs to be done.”
The Trojans were coming off two straight losses after a season-opening win and found a consistent offensive rhythm and quickly erased a 9-5 first-quarter deficit and went into halftime with a 10-point cushion.
Jalen Render and Spencer Keylon combined for nine of the Trojans’ 11 third-quarter points as they built a 32-18 lead. Davis the other two points.
“I love playing with these guys,” said Volker, one of five starting seniors. “We’ve been together all four years, and even in middle school, and the chemistry is amazing. The atmosphere is a lot better than last year and tonight we played incredibly well as a team, sharing the ball and people crashing the boards. Everything was great.”
Davis scored eight points in the fourth quarter and Volker added five as the Trojans kept stretching the lead, effectively driving to the lane and throwing in a few perimeter darts that struck at the Wildcats’ heart.
“We have shooters at all five positions,” Volker said. “We can all play from the inside out.”
Eller, who coached at Hixson from 1994-2008, went into Tuesday’s game believing Davis and Volker could have good performances against the Wildcats.
“We felt like we would get some opportunities to get the ball to them and allow them to get to the basket,” he said. “When you look and you’re successful in what you’re looking for, then you’re going to look more.”
In other words, he wanted his other players to keep feeding the ball to Davis and Volker, who had the hot hands most of the night.
“Exactly,” Eller said
Shawn Long paced Hixson (0-4) with 14 points, including three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter that kept the game from reaching blowout proportions. Long drained a first-quarter 3 to give him four of the Wildcats’ five made shots from beyond the long-distance arc.
“We haven’t found our offensive consistency so far,” Hixson coach Lawanza Crutcher said. “A few guys have stepped up, but we haven’t done that as a crew. We missed a lot of easy shots, but I give Soddy-Daisy credit because they found a rhythm and they got comfortable playing at home and in front of a good crowd.
“In the second half, we applied a lot of defensive pressure, caused some turnovers and did some good things. We just couldn’t score the ball.”
The Soddy-Daisy girls (2-2) were held scoreless for most of the second half in the 39-33 loss at Red Bank on Monday.
“We talked before tonight’s game about finding offensive consistency,” Lady Trojans coach Drew Lyness said. “Defensively, we played well tonight. Our first 10 girls can play all the spots on the floor and they’re good defenders.”
Hixson (0-3) failed to score double-digit points in any quarter and had trouble outscoring Soddy-Daisy senior Alexis Trimiar, who finished with 16 points despite not playing in the second and fourth quarters.
Trimiar scored the game’s first 10 points and finished with 12 as the Lady Trojans raced to a 20-3 advantage after one quarter. She didn’t play in the second period and went 4-for-4 from the free-throw line before heading back to the bench.
“Alexis is the backbone of our team,” Lyness said. “She didn’t come out much at all in our first few games and played her heart out (Monday) at Red Bank. As she goes, we go. We played a lot of girls tonight and that helped with confidence for a few of them.”
Soddy-Daisy outscored Hixson 16-1 over the final 4:35of the final quarter. Katie Hamby had six points and Madison Davis and Bailey Branum each had four in the final offensive spree.
Chihiro Nakata and Kirby Brown each scored nine points for Hixson (0-3). All of Nakata’s points came on made 3-pointers. The Lady Wildcats went 3-for-18 from the free-throw line while Soddy-Daisy hit 17 of 23.
Hixson 3 6 6 9 – 24
Soddy-Daisy 20 8 17 16 – 61
Hixson (24) – Crutcher, Taylor 1, Chihiro Nakata 9, Strickland 2, Hunter 3, Kirby Brown 9, Hemphill, Guerrero, Casala, Hobbs.
Soddy-Daisy (53) – Dent 6, M. Davis 6, Kearney 2, Ghaffari 3, Alexis Trimiar 16, Branum 6, Prestwood 4, Hall 4, Hamby 8, B.Davis 6
3-Point Goals – Hixson 3 (Nakata 3), Soddy-Daisy none.
Hixson 9 2 7 13 – 31
Soddy-Daisy 5 16 11 21 – 53
Hixson (31) – Alemeda 3, Snow 2, Berrien, Crowe 4, Smith, Carter, Shawn Long 14, Moorer 6, Stegall 2, Jones.
Soddy-Daisy (53) – Perez 4, Branah, Massengale, Culton, Render 4, Keylon 8, Hart 2, Josh Davis 15, Burke 7, Doug Volker 13.
3-Point Goals – Hixson 5 (Long 4, Moorer 1), Soddy-Daisy 3 (Keylon 2, Volker 1).
(Contact Larry Fleming at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @larryfleming44)