OVILLA – Matt Jones does not deny it. After all, how can he? When the season began, he didn’t believe the 2010-11 edition of Ovilla Christian boys basketball had much of a chance to win a district title.
“We lost five seniors off of last year’s team going into this year and so there was a little uncertainty. We did not expect to play the way we played,” Jones, the boys head coach, says in hindsight.
Fast-forward to today and the Eagles have the Tapps 3-3A title, an offensive MVP and more than a handful of all-district honors to their credit. Whatever changed between then and now took the Eagles from unknowns to a team that must be respected.
“They really came together as a group. They took on more of a team attitude and personality, not as much as individuals and just had kids that kept stepping up,” Jones said. “We had Travis (Bond) that carried us most of the year and Justin (Walker) is another senior we had but we had other players just step up and that was the biggest difference. The improvement from year-to-year, that was huge.”
If Jones didn’t believe his team really didn’t have a shot at a district championship, he never let it show to his players. Jones and his team picked up a few wins in the early portion of the season that built some confidence but it was when the team started beating district opponents that things really started to turn.
Particularly those district opponents that beat them the season before. Badly.
District 3-3A offensive MVP Travis Bond says the team simply began to believe in itself. In the end, that was what turned the Eagles into contenders.
“We looked at our team and we could tell we had a good team. We believed that we could do it. Coach said we could do it. So, we went out and did it,” Bond said. “Throughout the year we beat some good teams so that’s just when we knew we could do it.”
The end result was a 19-13 overall record and an 8-2 showing in district. That mark gave Ovilla Christian its first boys basketball district title since 1998-99 when the program was in its infancy. The Eagles started playing basketball in 1997 and made the playoffs each of the first two seasons, with that district championship as well. Since then, they’ve only been to the postseason two times in 10-plus years. The team did fall to Bullard Brook Hill in the Tapps 3A playoffs ending the magical run.
What does it all mean for the Eagles? Jones hopes it means things are finally starting to turn back in a positive direction. Those players who will graduate from the program this season were intent on leaving a legacy of accomplishment rather than disappointment. That mission was successful. The key will be carrying it on.
“I think it was important to them the fact of the legacy we left, we’re finally getting the basketball program back on the map,” Jones said. “People are starting to recognize us again and the potential that we have to build from here, not that this year was just a fluke but it’s the beginning of what we’re going to do.”
Jones points out that among the 400-plus members of the student body there is a good bit of excitement about the basketball program and for good reason. While those key seniors will be missed, there are plenty of players returning, including Bond.
The junior scored a school-record 756 points this season and is less than 250 points away from breaking the all-time scoring record. Bond has already set his sights on more than just personal success.
“Hoping to work hard and have a good year next year. Build on this year and do even better,” he said.
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