LIVINGSTON – Some coaches might be pleased with a 30-plus point win over a District 10-2A opponent, but not Doyle boys coach Daniel Kennedy.
It’s not that he’s upset, it’s just that he’s just trying to hammer home a point to his team as the playoffs are nearing.
Doyle rode a big first quarter in picking up an 82-48 victory over Springfield on Friday at the Doyle Elementary gym.
“You kind of are who you are at this point,” Kennedy said after his team moved to 21-5 and 7-1. “You’re not going to all of a sudden create some type of new defense or be able to run some kind of different offense. You’re wanting to, what you do, be great at. That’s the challenge that we’ve kind of (presented) our guys. How great can you play on both ends of the floor? Yeah, you might tweak something here or there, as you have been doing all year, but really for us right now in our situation and what we’ve been preaching is, can we be great for 32 minutes?
“Our goal is to make it to that Top 28,” Kennedy continued. “Well, to get to there, you’re going have to be great for 32 minutes at some point, and that is the challenge every day.”
Springfield (5-24, 1-7) again played without Collin Hayden, its lone senior, whom coach John Hii said will likely miss the remainder of the season with a severe ankle sprain.
“If we lose because the other team’s better than us, what can I do? It was the case tonight. There was no doubt about it,” Hii said, noting his starting lineup featured four sophomores and one freshman. “Doyle was the better team, and nobody in their right mind is going to tell you any differently. I told them that in the locker room … I was very proud of the fact we actually looked like we had gone over a press break before, and we looked like we knew what we were trying to do on offense. I saw some really good signs.”
Andrew Yuratich was the catalyst for Doyle early on, scoring 13 of his 28 points in the first quarter, helping the Tigers to a 26-6 lead heading into the second quarter.
“When we were pressing, and I’m at the top of the presses a lot, if my team gets steals, everything comes back to me because I’m at the top,” Yuratich said. “I had a couple of 3-pointers, an and-one, and everything just kept going. I got hot and really found my groove shooting. I was definitely playing pretty good, but my teammates got me open.”
John Barrios added six points in the first quarter as part of a 20-point effort for the Tigers.
From there, Springfield worked to cut into the lead with 3-pointers from Bradlyn McKay and Brandon Weathersby to help spark a run that got Springfield within 29-14.
“We quit full-court pressing in the second quarter, kind of got back and played half-court, and that has something to do with the tempo, but that has nothing to do with your effort of what you want to do,” Kennedy said.
Matt Grace added eight points for Springfield, while McKay and Weathersby each scored seven.
A basket by Owen Hodges, who led the Bulldogs with nine points, cut the lead to 36-23 before Yuratich nailed a 3-pointer and a Braden Keen basket put the Tigers ahead 41-23 at halftime.
Hii said losing Hayden has changed the complexion of his team.
“When he went down, it completely changed the dynamic of everything, and now we’ve got to have different people stepping up,” he said. “You replace 6-(foot)-5 with now 5-(foot)-10, maybe. You can’t replace a senior. Anybody that’s played team sports knows that a senior is important. Even if they never play a minute, they’re important – and the fact of the matter that he was probably our best player, and he was our tallest player, and he was most experienced player, and he was our best 3-point shooter, and he was our best layup maker, it makes a difference.”
Logan Turner’s 3-pointer to open the third quarter keyed a run that put the Tigers ahead 57-25 before Doyle went into the fourth quarter leading 68-33.
Yuratich had 12 points in the third quarter with a pair of 3-pointers, including one for the final points of the quarter.
“He (Kennedy) said he wanted us to dominate for the whole game, and we kind of slacked off in the second,” Yuratich said. “At halftime, he told us we need to go back out there and dominate, so I was really feeling it in the third quarter and hit a couple of threes and got our team going.”
Barrios had seven points in the fourth quarter and said he’s finding a comfort zone with his teammates.
“We’ve been working on it a lot in practice,” Barrios said of the Tigers working the ball to him in the paint. “I used to not be as comfortable wanting the ball, but my team’s kind of helped me get comfortable and just want the ball more.”
With Doyle in control with a 75-37 lead in the fourth, both teams worked their younger players into the game.
“You want to get those guys some minutes, because obviously, that’s our future,” Kennedy said of going to the bench. “We’re going to be missing some guys come next year, and you really want to say, ‘hey, I’ve given every opportunity to get better’, or even to evaluate them."