Matt Angove isn’t sure what happened.
After a 52-46 loss to Illinois Valley on its home court, Bandon looked inwards for answers. Its next game was a 54-49 win at St. Mary’s. That’s where the unknown switch happened.
“Something happened,” Angove said. “I’m not saying I said the magic words, but we had a nice talk after the IV game and something clicked. We went to St. Mary’s and played the best game we have.”
So what is that something clicking?
Some of it has to do with simple experience. The Tigers’ two best players are both sophomores and the third-best player in a junior.
That’s not very much court time for the top three offensive options. So perhaps sophomores Coby Smith and Braydon Freitag are becoming simply better basketball players and junior Matt Yarbor is taking on a larger role at both ends of the floor.
Now Bandon hopes to turn the improved play into wins in the Sunset Conference season.
The Tigers lost to Reedsport 49-47 in overtime in their league opener before suffering another close loss, 49-41 at Gold Beach, on Tuesday.
Bandon was without Freitag for the first half of last Friday’s league opener against Reedsport, a 49-47 overtime loss, but the Tigers still rallied to force the extra period anyway.
Smith had 24 points and Freitag scored 15, including a 3-pointer to force overtime.
While Smith carried the load in the first half, Freitag stepped up in the second, including driving to the hoop and kicking the ball out to Smith, Yarbor or Jason Wilhite, who all hit 3-pointers in teh game.
Much of that had to do with Coby Smith, who scored all 14 of Bandon’s first-half points. Reedsport coach Marc Chaney moved his defensive scheme around to get a new defender on Smith, and it largely worked as Smith finished with 24 points to lead all scorers.
It was the addition of Freitag, though, that made Bandon dangerous. Now the Tigers had a driving option to break down the Reedsport defense on the dribble. This opened dump-off passes to Smith at the block or kick-out 3-pointers for Yarbor or Smith or Jason Wilhite. All four — Freitag, Smith, Yarbor and Wilhite — hit 3s against the Brave.
Yarbor got a good look at a 3-pointer that was on target, just a little short as time expired as Reedsport escaped Bandon's gym with a win.
Angove said the Tigers are best when they are patient on offense, finding good looks.
“I know we’re not a high-powered offensive machine, but we’re learning to be patient and get it to the right people at the right spots,” Angove said. “We still need to get our offensive down a little better. Just don’t want them hangin’ heads. Keep your heads up. It was that far, a hair short. A little harder, a bounce forward and it’s a game-winner.”
While the Tigers had to battle from behind to force overtime against Reedsport, they led at halftime in Gold Beach, but couldn't hold on as the Panthers outscored Bandon 32-19 in the final two quarters.
"We played great defense in the first half, but it wasn't there in the second half and we had a difficult time scoring," Angove said.
Things don't get any easier Friday, when defending league champion Toledo comes to town. Next week, the Tigers are at Waldport on Tuesday and Myrtle Point on Friday.