Creekside head boys' basketball coach Adam Holmes' team has performed well this season, but he doesn’t run from a stark reality about them.
“We’re a smaller team,” Holmes said. “We’ve only got one guy over 6-foot-2.”
Size, though, hasn’t been a hindrance for the Knights, who are 11-5. They’ve won big games this season against tough opponents, including two against district rivals Bartram Trail (9-10) and St. Augustine (13-5).
They are at their best when they have five guys defending and are able to get some transition opportunities through their defense, Holmes said.
The Knights played that way in the first quarter of their recent matchup against juggernaut Ponte Vedra (18-2) and had the Sharks down 16-8 after the first quarter. Creekside defended well, stifling any easy buckets from Ponte Vedra with huge blocks.
They played big.
“We have to play bigger than we are,” Creekside star Hampton Riedl said. “Coach tells us that if you’re 6-feet, you have to play like you’re 6-foot-2.”
Ponte Vedra, however, shook off its slow start, rattled off 25 points in the second quarter and went on to defeat the Knights 71-49. It was the Knights’ youth, rather than their size, that was their undoing.
Creekside has one senior starter compared to Ponte Vedra’s four, which are backed up by several juniors. The mature Sharks calmly worked themselves back into the game while the Knights unraveled down the stretch.
Riedl said he wants to do a better job of leading the young team and keeping his composure in tough moments. He’d also like to improve his defensive effort and rebounding, he added.
Defensive rebounding is an area of growth for all the Knights, Holmes said. Senior Alex Collier, the tallest player on the team at 6-5, takes on most of the onus to grab those rebounds. He leads the team with 8.3 per game.
Sophomore Caleb Macabee leads the team in scoring with 12.6 points per game. Macabee and the Knights generate a lot of their offense from behind the arc. What they lack in size they make up in shooting, with four players shooting more than 40% this season.
“If they’re open, they shoot it,” Holmes said, adding they’re often looking for the standstill three.
That’s a new identity for the Knights and Holmes, who has led the team to a winning record three seasons at the helm. The goal to be district champions, however, has not changed. The Knights are currently 4-0 in their district.
“If we jell at the right time, we could really make a run,” Macabee said.
This article originally appeared on St. Augustine Record: High school basketball: Smaller Creekside team gets big wins