With a new coach and a new system in place, the Highland Regional High School boys’ basketball team figured to hit a few bumps in the road during the early part of the schedule.
That’s why even though the Tartans (2-5) have not gotten out to the type of start a team would like, head coach Crythen Langhorne still has plenty of optimism about the future. He sees a team that lost games by four and five points, and knows that a winning record isn’t that far off.
He also knows getting there won’t be easy and it will only happen if he can get a full four quarters from his players each time out.
“I’m learning that I have to push them at all times,” Langhorne said. “I have been trying to teach them that they have to put four quarters together; they can’t just come out and think teams are going to roll over, because we are not talented enough to do that. We have to play all 32 minutes and compete every play. I think a lot of our guys like to take it easy on certain plays and think that our talent will get over. We don’t do all of the little things that make a good team.”
Langhorne took over for Andrew Theis, who stepped down at the end of last season. He spent much of the offseason and preseason getting his players to learn a new system on both sides of the court. The Tartans are still a team in transition, but Langhorne said the players have been welcoming to him.
“I think they have listened pretty well,” Langhorne said. “Sometimes they want to go back to the old ways, but overall I think the kids have really listened. They have been appreciative of having a new coach and have been supportive of my philosophy. They know it is defense first and if they don’t do that, they are not going to play.”
Langhorne is hoping that by season’s end the team will be playing a disciplined man-to-man defense that features weak-side help with and a lot of communication.
“I think that’s where those little things come in. We are so close to being in games and winning games at the end,” Langhorne said. “A lot of it comes down to the (bad) starts we are having. We start so slow every game we are fighting and fighting to get back into it in the second half. If I can get the kids to come out in the first and second quarter and play like they do in the third and fourth quarter then we will win a lot of games.”
The Tartans are senior-laden with seven players in their final season at Highland. Senior Juwan Morgan has run the point effectively, scoring in double digits three times this season, while senior Kerron Johnson is coming off a 12-point effort against Kingsway.
The biggest revelation in the past few games, however, has been freshman Christian Scafidi. Listed at 6-foot-3, Scafidi is leading the team in scoring after games of 19 points and 11 rebounds and 10 points and 10 rebounds in the Tartans’ last two games.
Langhorne expressed excitement about Scafidi’s play and the future of the program in general. He believes with a few tweaks, things can turn around rather quickly and Highland can put itself in good position to make a run at the playoffs.
“If we can just work on those little areas then I think we are good enough to compete for a spot,” Langhorne said. "In terms of being over the .500 mark by the cutoff date, I think we can do it.”