Back to square one.
That’s where the Durango High School boys basketball team went this week ahead of its Southwestern League opener Friday night against Grand Junction Central.
A 64-42 loss to Class 2A No. 1 Ignacio left a sour taste in head coach Alan Batiste’s mouth, and it had more to do with the effort on the defensive end and the fight – or lack thereof – that he felt the Demons exhibited.
That’s why DHS has spent most of its week on drills built to get the fire back, to get the competitive juices flowing.
“Basically, we just kind of went back to square one and tough drills, one-on-one drills, five-on-five drills – just basically competition-type drills,” Batiste said.
The identity Batiste has sought to instill in his time in charge of the program is one of a hard-nosed, defense-first unit. When the Demons are at their best, they seem to feed off big defensive plays and getting out in transition off turnovers.
With that in mind, Batiste is hoping his squad gets back on track as the Demons take a shot at an SWL championship.
“It’s really just a motivation factor of wanting to work hard the whole game,” he said. “We’re not the most talented team, but I know with hard work, that’s what we’ve been hanging our coat on for the last three years, and when we work hard, good outcomes come. But when we go through the motions, certain things happen like last Saturday.
“If we want to play defense and have the will to play defense and do the hustle things and hustle plays, we would’ve been fine.”
Durango’s results bear that out. In the Demons’ four victories, they’ve allowed an average of 41.25 points per game. In their four losses, they’ve allowed 57 points per contest – a staggering contrast illustrating Durango’s need to be a shutdown defensive unit.
The disappointment against Ignacio aside, the bigger reward for Durango still lies ahead, attainable with the right results and defensive success. The journey toward what DHS hopes is an SWL title begins this weekend against Central and Fruita Monument.
“That’s what we ride on. ... I’ve never been a coach that’s said we’re going to outscore somebody, the first team to 60 wins. We’re always riding it out on defense,” Batiste said.