Growing pains were plentiful Friday for the Dripping Springs Tiger boys basketball team.
Multiple turnovers, mixed with a concerted Hays Rebel effort, hurt the Tigers (2-1) in a 59-48 loss at Tiger Gym.
For Tiger head coach Craig Swannack, nights such as this are common in helping a team brimming with inexperience navigate the rigors of the regular season. With only two returning starters from a year ago, Swannack said he plans to lean on his upperclassmen in helping younger players adhere to varsity life.
“I love the team. I love their work ethic. I love the way they’re playing defense,” Swannack said. “I’m really excited about this team for the future.”
Leading that charge will be seniors Trace Young and Xavier Phillips who were key cogs in last season’s playoff squad. Seniors Colin Spires and Hayden Shields are also expected to provide stability for the program. Swannack said all of his upperclassmen do a “phenominal job” of leading by example.
“They’re making sure to be the example for their teammates, for those young guys, to guide them and understand how varsity basketball works,” Swannack said.
But behind them is a group that has little to no experience at the varsity level. By incorporating those new players, there’s often a “lot to learn” about the varsity level of basketball, Swannack said.
“It’s a new sport. It’s a different way to play,” Swannack said. “A lot of guys are still learning that.”
Those hard knocks were on display Friday as Dripping Springs oftentimes was its own worst enemy. Dripping Springs kept up with Hays for most of the contest, trailing 28-26 at halftime, which was then whittled down to a 38-37 deficit after three frames.
Self-inflicted wounds, however, partially derailed the Tigers down the stretch. Numerous turnovers allowed Hays to build confidence on the offensive end and run away with the win.
“Turnovers are just a killer. You could see it tonight. We made several that were unfortunate, several that turned into big momentum plays for Hays,” Swannack said. “When you have too many, it’s going to cost you. Tonight it did.”
Armed with learning experiences, Swannack and the Tigers continue their march toward preparing for the grueling 25-5A district slate.
“It’s a tough district to win in boys basketball,” Swannack said. “In order to have success, you have to be disciplined and you have to execute really well.”
Dripping Springs is on the road at Lake Travis Dec. 3 and at Kerrville Tivy Dec. 6. The Tigers host Taylor Dec. 20 at 4 p.m.