As he hung around outside the locker room Friday night, Navarre head coach Taf Bentley talked about the speech he made to his team after its 60-44 loss to Washington in the third-place game of the Northwest Florida Shootout at Choctaw.
His team had just lost its second consecutive game, falling to 8-7 in a season where the schedule is about as rigorous as it can get.
“I told them I never said it was going to be easy,” Bentley said. “But in the end it will be worth it. Our schedule gets more favorable now and we will have more practices than games, which will give us a chance to get better and hopefully things will go the way I think they will.”
Navarre showed signs of its potential throughout the three-day tourney, and that includes the game against the Wildcats. The Raiders trailed only 35-31 with 4:40 to play in the third quarter before the Wildcats picked up the pace and the scoring to build a 44-33 with 1:44 remaining in the third.
“They did a good job of attacking the rim and we weren’t able to stop it,” Bentley said. “We also got caught up playing fast with them and that didn’t work either. They have a great team.”
Navarre was down just 14-9 after one quarter and trailed just 31-27 at halftime, staying toe-to-toe with the athletic Wildcats, who hit 3-pointers in the opening quarter but did most of their damage in the paint.
Navarre attempted to counter the attack but turnovers and missed shots hurt its cause late.
“When we get in situations where we are down we have to think we either have to get it inside and score or get to the line and make free throws,” Bentley said. “We’re still trying to figure some things out. They have to trust themselves. I believe in them but it comes down to them believing in themselves.”
Matt Harshany turned in a stellar performance despite the loss, pouring in 24 points. Tyrese Harvey and Dominic Riddle scored six points apiece.
Read more in the Jan. 5 edition of the Navarre Press or subscribe online here.