ABERDEEN — An inability to sink shots early on ended up sinking the Bobcats in their 75-63 loss to WF West on Thursday in Aberdeen.
The Bobcats (7-2, 0-1 Evergreen 2A), were struggling to get the looks they were hoping for in the first half with WF West (5-6, 2-0) applying heavy pressure to Aberdeen’s ball handlers.
On the other end of the court, the Bearcats found success early on against Aberdeen’s 3-2 zone defense. WF West’s Tyler Speak had a particularly strong first half and scored 17 points including three 3-pointers.
Aberdeen head coach Mark Buckman said his team’s energy level was down at both ends of the court.
“More than anything I feel like our energy level wasn’t quite what it has been in the previous game,” he said. “I’m not sure if the moment was too big for these guys but we came out a little flat and had to play behind from the start.”
Aberdeen exited the locker room facing a 34-22 deficit and struggled to keep the game close in the third quarter.
The Bearcats came out hot and opened up a 46-26 lead with about five minutes to go in the third frame.
However, Aberdeen kept the game from getting completely away from them thanks in part to a defensive adjustment. The Bobcats went from a zone defense to a man defense to help stop the bleeding.
Buckman was encouraged with the improved defense in the second half but will be looking for a more complete effort next time out.
“We have to build that chemistry again. We had some lapses down low defensively and we lost the basketball. We weren’t digging in and we allowed easy drives to the hole. Our team defense wasn’t where it needed to be early on.”
Speak had a quiet second half and was held scoreless after halftime. While one of the Bearcats’ leading scorers was slowed, Aberdeen’s guards began to heat up. Ben Dublanko put up 19 points and brought the Bobcats within nine when his mid-range jumper pushed the score to 55-46 with five minutes to go.
Javier Bojorge also came on late and scored 10 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter.
Aberdeen also got a number of open looks at the rim, but couldn’t finish in face of WF West’s long interior defenders.
Buckman liked the looks his team was getting late in the game but was disappointed they couldn’t convert more of them.
“Ultimately we have to have better focus when we get those open looks,” he said. “I’m never happy with missing bunnies, but those guys will be able to see that on film and see that they can take some time to gather themselves to get a better shot.”
Aberdeen went into a full-court press in the final two minutes of the contest but couldn’t quite close the gap and were forced to foul.
The Bobcats have a brief break from their league schedule with a home game against Chimacum on Saturday at 6 p.m.
Buckman isn’t planning any wide-sweeping changes going forward and hopes his team can regain its chemistry on defense.
“We know that we can’t give up 75 to a league opponent and expect to win. Our goal is to keep them 50 and below. Tonight we failed,” he said.