Coach Garman and team remains upbeat
I keep checking back with the boys head basketball coach, Patrick Garman. Normally by this time, this particular job has whoever the coach is frustrated. They each know in basketball that a program needs to be established before a team will ever be much of a threat. Branford remains the only school without a middle school program, and until Coach Garman arrived, didn't even offer a summer program. Each year we are reminded that Branford is a basketball school, and a basketball program is not a high priority. But Coach Garman continues to be upbeat and battle with what options he has. And he has done a great job with this group.
The Bucs recently dropped their record to 0-6 in Chiefland, but only by seven points. Garman promised us that this team would compete, and that they have done. The defense was outstanding against the Indians in the 33-26 loss. He was quite pleased with the performance of the Bucs.
The offense has certainly picked up in recent weeks with sophomore Travis Williams averaging 14 points a game this year. Against the Indians, Williams dropped in his average of 14, but prior to that scored 18 against Bronson and 20 against Trenton. He has also been a factor on the boards, leading the Bucs for the most part.
Coach Garman will readily admit that he is waiting for a second scorer to show up, which would really help this team out offensively. It is just a matter of time before these guys hit the win column. After speaking to Ronnie Jackson, the senior forward for the Bucs, he felt that if the team could just get one in the win column, it could make a huge difference and possibly put the Bucs on a roll. Jackson is very much improved this year himself, averaging 4 boards a game, and manages to score a bucket or two for the Bucs off the offensive glass.
Defense and rebounding are a specialty of senior Chris Tomlinson. The offensive numbers have not been consistent, but did score 8 points against Bell, and finds his way into the scoring column in most games. For the Bucs to be successful, and they will, Tomlinson needs to exert himself on the offensive side of the ball. He is always quite the team player and is going to provide the assists, steals and rebounds to keep the Bucs in the game.
Another sophomore making noise this year is Dustin Cannon. Cannon broke loose for 12 points against Bell, but is staying in the three to six point range for most of the games. Cannon has raised his defensive level this season, and is providing needed energy for this team.
Despite losing to an outstanding Bronson team by a score of 66-42, the Bucs were able to do some great things. Defensively, Tomlinson was joined by senior Dan Hanley in making quite a few steals to keep the Bucs competitive. This was not a bad loss for the Bucs at all. Seven Bucs reached the scoring column, and Branford was able to stay with the Eagles in the rebounding department. Branford was outscored 17-7 in the first quarter, but made it a game the rest of the way.
Each game continues to be a positive for the Bucs. Coach Garman has been very pleased with the progress of this group and continues to believe in his team. The Bucs proved against Bell that they could get the offense going after punching 23 points in the first quarter. Despite dropping a 12 point contest to Bell, the Bucs now know that they are very capable of delivering an offensive punch.
Branford will be traveling to Tallahassee to compete in McClay in a Christmas tournament. The experience here should be invaluable to the Bucs as they attempt to grow. For those folks just looking at the 0-6 record, just look at how the Bucs have competed this year. An 18 point loss to five time defending district champion Jasper, a 18 point loss to Trenton, and a 24 point loss to state ranked Bronson. In the past, these games were more like 40 point differences by the half.
Coach Garman is also excited about the job Coach Seth Stebbins and the junior varsity team is doing. An overtime loss to Jasper, followed by a win over Bell has these guys believing in themselves. Branford also dropped a recent ballgame in Chiefland by seven points, and took a very good Bronson team to the limit, actually forcing a tie at the half.
David Campbell and Michael Lindblade have been doing outstanding jobs on the boards for the Bucs thus far. Lindblade led the team against Chiefland with 8 strong boards, but Campbell was impressive with 11 against Bell. The offense has a number of contributors to help make this team exciting. Lindblade was effective against Hamilton County with his best game of the year, scoring 14 points, while scoring 10 against Bell. Campbell would match that total against Bell, and score 9 himself against the Trojans. Andrew Jackson had his best output against Bell scoring 8 points to help the Bucs to their only win, but has been very productive on the boards, getting 8 against Chiefland and 12 against Hamilton County, to help keep the Bucs in the games.
Both these teams are fun this year and should start hitting the win column in 2005. Both coaches have hung in there and done a great job keeping the boys positive. Even without an actual basketball program at the football only school in Branford, they are doing a great job, and battling against all odds to compete against some great teams.