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The Student News Site of McCallum High School

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The Student News Site of McCallum High School

The Shield Online

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Shorthanded Knights top Trojans to claim inaugural Taco Shack Shields Collide title

Playing with intensity, intelligence, McCallum controls fourth quarter to turn close game into decisive victory
Tristen Diaz
Let the record show that senior forward Cash Kershner squared off against Anderson senior Campbell Duncan for the opening tip of the first ever Taco Shack Shields Collide basketball showdown.

In a thrilling debut of the season, the boys varsity basketball team earned a decisive 51-37 victory over archrival Anderson on Friday Nov. 10 to win the inaugural Taco Shack Shield Collide basketball game. After the game, Taco Shack owner Orlando Arriaga presented the team with  the inaugural Shield Collide basketball trophy.

We knew a lot of people going in didn’t expect us to win, especially Anderson, and I think that helped motivate us even more.

— junior shooting guard George Brode

Junior shooting guard George Brode said that even though the Knights deserved to win the game, the outcome left him in disbelief.

“Honestly beating Anderson kind of felt like a dream, it was just almost hard to believe,” Brode said. “The feeling after the game was something I had never felt before.”

The team prepared for the game for weeks. Brode credited the coaches with enabling the victory.

“It all starts with the intensity we bring to practices, which we try to translate to games,” Brode said. “Our coaching staff did a great job of pushing us. The players weren’t the only ones who really wanted this win against the Knights’ arch-rivals. We knew the coaches wanted it just as bad as we did. It was really a collective team effort. We couldn’t have won without every single one of us [contributing].”

The victory was even more unlikely because the Knights played the game shorthanded, without key players who were either playing playoff football or injured. The Knights compensated for their missing pieces by playing with an intensity on both ends of the court from opening tip to final buzzer. Their energy was matched not only by their opponents from Anderson but also from both student sections and both benches.

“We couldn’t have won that game without the energy from every one of us,” Brode said. “The energy from the bench was just as important as the plays we made on the court.”

Going into the game, the Knights knew the victory wasn’t going to come easily. 

“We were actually missing a few football players, who are usually big contributors to our team who definitely would have helped us against Anderson along with one of our best players, Ethan Plummer, who was out with a concussion,” Brode said. 

In addition to Plummer being out, the team was without senior leaders Finn Corrigan and Charleston Rabb, who were playing in the bi-district playoff game at House Park. 

As we executed seamless plays sinking baskets, it felt good that our hard work was really paying off when it mattered.

— junior small forward George McCoy

“We were missing one of our captains [Corrigan], but our other captain stepped up and took control,” Brode said. “We definitely trusted each other to step up and get the job done.”

Head coach Daniel Fuentes attributed the victory to three factors.

“We felt that we had to be solid on defense and not gamble,” Fuentes said. “By not gambling, I mean keeping your man in front. The second thing was to have great execution on offense and make the correct reads and keep the ball moving, and the last thing was to be the aggressor. We talked about how the aggressor gets rewarded.”

Junior small forward George McCoy agreed that the team played smart and hard, which ultimately led to the victory.

 “As we executed seamless plays sinking baskets, it felt good that our hard work was really paying off when it mattered,” McCoy said. 

While the offense executed, the defense played tactically sound.

“One thing Coach likes to do is switch up our defensive formations during games to try and catch the other teams off guard,” Brode said. “I would definitely say we were able to do that against Anderson and I think it was the right call.”

For much of the game, Anderson answered the Knights’ intensity and execution and the game remained close heading into the final quarter.

“We knew we couldn’t slow down or take the foot off the gas pedal at all,” Brode said. “We kept encouraging each other to keep going and pushed each other to finish the game strong.”

And that’s exactly what the Knights did, according to their coach.

“There were many lead changes in the game until the middle of the fourth quarter,” Fuentes said. “We scored on three straight possessions. After that we decided to kill the clock, and they had no choice but to foul to get the possession back.”

To win the game, the Knights had to convert their foul shots.

Henry Mayes led all Knight Scorers with 20 points, 12 of the in the critical fourth quarter when the Knights turned a close game into a decisive victory (Tristen Diaz).

We made 12 out of 17 free throws in the fourth quarter,” Fuentes said. “We have been working a lot to improve our free throw shooting percentage, so it was really nice to see the work pay off.”

The Knights did not just pull off an unexpected victory. They ended up winning the game by 14 points.

“We knew a lot of people going in didn’t expect us to win, especially Anderson, and I think that helped motivate us even more,” Brode said.  

While motivation was a factor in the win, McCoy credited the team’s adjustments during the game as another primary reason they were able to win.

I think if we play every game like we played against Anderson, we can go undefeated in district.

— Brode

“Coach told us to fix something, and we did it,” McCoy said. “I feel that is what led us to victory.”

Brode said the lessons of Taco Shack will serve the team well as they head into the long season.

“I think something this game has taught us is that we can’t drop the level of intensity or quality when playing against other teams,” Brode said. “I hope we go into every game like we’re playing Anderson. Hopefully we can carry that level of intensity onto our next few games and throughout the season.”

The Knights had something to prove to the Trojans to be sure, but Brode said it was more important that they convince themselves that they could take down their top rivals.

“I think the team was really motivated to prove themselves not just to the Trojans but to themselves on how strong their team can be,” Brode said.

While the Taco Shack win is a moment to savor, the larger prize might be how the victory illustrates how competitive the team can be all season. Brode said the first game laid a foundation for what looks to be a compelling season for the Knights 

“I think if we play every game like we played against Anderson, we can go undefeated in district,” Brode said.

Brode acknowledges that reaching that goal won’t be easy.

“Anderson is one of our tougher opponents, but there will be other teams like that we will face in the future, especially if we make it to playoffs,” Brode said. “It was definitely a good test for us and I’m really happy we were able to get the job done.”

Five Questions with Coach Fuentes

When the football program played its first Taco Shack game against Anderson in 2001, current boys basketball head coach Daniel Fuentes was a wide receiver coach for the football team.  The Trojans prevailed that day, 21-18.  Both teams scored three touchdowns, but three missed conversions after touchdown proved to be the margin of victory for Anderson. “We could have beaten them if it wasn’t for our own stupid mistakes,” junior Logan Woody said to Knight reporter Chonie Bailey. “It’s not that they are better than we are at all.”

Twenty-two years later, Fuentes got his revenge on the Trojans by coaching the Knight basketball team to a win in the first basketball Taco Shack. We caught up with Coach Fuentes after the game to get his take on the historic victory.

We interrupt this interview to show you the presentation of the trophy that Fuentes mentioned at the end of his last statement.


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