Beatty High School girls basketball coach Travis Barron has some smart girls on his team. What he is trying to make them is smart basketball players, which he can then turn into a smart basketball team.
The first-year Hornets coach has a plan, but the growing pains are obvious even in a victory, such as the one they turned in Tuesday night when they defeated Word of Life 46-33 in their Class 1A Southern League opener in Beatty.
“We’re a young team,” Barron said. “We only have two seniors, a big group of juniors and a big group of sophomores. They’re still learning. We’re still working on fundamentals, you see a lot of the easy shots that we missed. They only won one game last year, and they’re doing better this year.
“It’s all new to them. They’re slowly building, and it’s a big difference from our first game to now.”
Last season, Beatty’s scoring output included games of 19, 16, 14, 12, 17 and 17 points. On Tuesday night, the Hornets had 24 in the book at halftime. Even better, they held the Eagles to 11 to take a big lead into the locker room.
Kyleigh King scored 8 of her game-high 14 points during the first quarter, and Carmen Stephenson and Joselyn Hernandez joined King in double figures with 10 points apiece. Stephenson also made the only two free throws of the game for the Hornets, who shot just 2 of 8 from the line.
Free throw shooting wasn’t the only aspect of the game that was kind of ugly. There were a lot of turnovers, plenty of air balls, and players often seemed to be looking for a defender to tie up the ball. But in the end, the Eagles couldn’t shoot, and the Hornets worked harder.
Barron would like them to be a little more aggressive, especially in battling for possession.
“We’re losing the loose-ball battle,” he said. “Every time there’s a ball on the floor, it’s the other team getting the ball. We’ve got to work on being more aggressive and being stronger.”
Along those same lines, Barron said the team’s conditioning took a hit over the holidays.
“It was good until we had two weeks off,” he said. “Having those two weeks off, we had a couple of practices and we didn’t have a lot of girls show up to the practices and we could see that their conditioning really dropped from before winter break.”
One thing Barron really liked Tuesday night was the play of his bench.
“Jasmine Wright had a good game,” he said. “Adriana Gil has really been improving. She didn’t play last year because she was hurt. Not this year; she’s strong with the ball, getting those rebounds and going back up to the basket.”
Gil scored all 6 of her points during the fourth quarter against Word of Life, as the Eagles cut the lead to seven three times but could get no closer.
Barron looks forward to the day when all of his players are working as a cohesive unit, but he acknowledges he needs to get them more fundamentally sound individually before that can happen.
“We still have some girls who think they can do their own thing,” he said. “Especially the younger ones. We’ve got some good, talented freshmen who think they can take everybody on one on one, and they don’t realize they’re now playing against juniors and seniors.
“They’re starting to unlearn. When they were in eighth grade, they were playing against sixth- and seventh-graders, and they could do whatever they wanted. They could dominate. And now they’re starting to learn: If I keep my head up, I can make that pass. I can get the ball back. If I’m working with my teammates, I can score more points than if I’m just doing my own thing.”
The process won’t be a quick one, but Barron, who spent several years coaching in Las Vegas before moving to Michigan and then to Nye County, feels comfortable in his role.
“I like the small school,” he said. “Great kids, small class sizes and the community’s real good.”
The Hornets, now 4-3, will travel to Indian Springs today for another Southern League game and then host Tonopah on Tuesday.