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T-Birds still look for improvement despite record

Posted Thursday, January 6, 2011, at 4:36 PM

Eastern Greene center Ray Darnell (30) drives through a North Central defender in a first round game Tuesday at the Greene County Invitational. Darnell is one of several reasons the Thunderbirds have won their first seven games. (By Shad Cox/Greene County Daily World).
You might think that a team that has began the season with an unblemished won-loss record would be happy where they are and with the progress they've made.

And in the case of the Eastern Greene Thunderbirds all of that's true.

So far this season nothing but positive things have been happening to the team.

They've begun the season with a run that included a bunch of lopsided wins thanks to an offensive scheme that has quickly developed an omnipresence of it's own.

They've scored an average of 74 points per game and have never scored less than 64 points on a given night.

And they've usually well exceeded that number.

Just for good measure they have three players -- JT Yoho, Ray Darnell and Zach Johnson -- averaging in double figures and a supporting cast that isn't afraid to shoot and score.

Defensively they're just about as impressive allowing just over 41 points an outing. And just for good measure they've climbed to the No. 5 spot in the latest Associated Press Class 2A poll.But for coach Andy Igel there's more to what's going on than just what's on the surface.

Take for example their win in the opening round of the Greene County Invitational -- an 85-33 shelling of North Central on Tuesday night.

In that contest after sprinting to a nearly insurmountable 12-0 lead bare two and a half minutes into the contest, the Thunderbirds started to let things get a little sloppy according to Igel.

"I always tell the guys we're playing 32 minutes," Igel said following Tuesday's win. "I don't care who's out on the floor, we're playing 32 minutes trying to do things the right way."

Igel further stresses to his team that even though they're an unbeaten team, they've still got to get better.

"I'm sure everybody's sitting up there saying they haven't been challenged -- well we haven't," Igel admitted. "We're doing things to put ourselves in a position to do that."

While the Thunderbirds were rolling with little pressure from an outmanned opponent on Tuesday night, Igel said he felt like his team was losing their focus at of all places -- the free throw line.

And that's a place where Igel and his team both realize that a tight contest can be won or lost.

"I just thought we got sloppy and I didn't like our free throw focus," Igel said. "...the only thing I can figure is that they're shooting free throws that don't mean as much so they're not focused and I could tell a lot from their body language."

While the Greene County Invitational is just one small portion of the Eastern Greene overall schedule, it's still a reflection of the remainder of the season.

Not only do they face a Clay City team on Friday that just avenged an earlier loss to Union (Dugger), but they also know that Eels coach Vance Edmondson will have his team ready to rock and roll.

And just like anyone the Thunderbirds face in the upcoming future, both regular and postseason, they will be ready to try and knock off the big boy on the block, which for now seems to be the Thunderbirds.

"To be in this situation at 7-0 is special," Igel admits. "But each game here (at the GCI) is going to get tougher.

"Clay City's going to be ready and they're going to have a good game plan."

And just like in the regular season, Igel admits that how well prepared his team is for the challenges that lie ahead is up to one person.

"We're going to have to be ready to go and my job is to make sure they're ready to go," he said. "It's a human nature thing sometimes when things come this easy not to work hard.

"But I haven't seen that in practice, so hopefully we'll get us another 'W' on Friday."

Rick is a sports writer with the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached by telephone at (812) 847-4487 ext. 20. Or he can be reached by E-mail at rcurl@gcdailyworld.com.

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So proud of the team and my fiercely strong brother! Great job boys!!!!

-- Posted by Eastern Greene Sister on Wed, Jan 12, 2011, at 10:18 AM

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