As Conner Barnes soared toward the rim in anticipation of a monster one-handed dunk in transition, his Broadway teammates and coaches stood from the bench with excitement.
The dunk attempt ultimately bounced off the back of the rim, but it didn’t end the play.
Instead, Conner’s brother, Caleb, grabbed the rebound and got a quick putback score.
That play alone represents exactly the type of effort Gobblers boys basketball coach Dwight Walton said he's seeking on a consistent basis.
“It was one of our best plays of the night,” Walton said. “We had two or three guys there to stick it back in. That’s huge. Those are the kinds of play that usually just put daggers in people.”
After a seven-point win over Turner Ashby on Tuesday, there was a feeling of dissatisfaction from Walton and his Broadway players after allowing the Knights to cut into a big lead late.
But despite allowing TA to make the score closer than how the game played out, there were plenty of positives to take away for the Gobblers, especially with their commitment to the little things.
“We showed [our players] how hard they go on film, tried to give them a warning about it,” Knights first year coach Clay Harris said. “They try to get all the 50-50 balls and we need to match it. They get on the floor, do a little bit of everything. They just do a great job and Walton does a great job of getting his kids to buy in all 32 minutes. That’s what we’re looking for. We’re trying to get there.”
During a second-quarter stretch in which Broadway outscored Turner Ashby 19-5, the Gobblers thrived on second-chance opportunities, drawn charges and stifling defense effort.
“We locked in and our defense picked up and we got a big run on offense,” BHS senior guard Caleb Barnes said.
Conner Barnes and Caleb Barnes combined for 32 points in the win, continuing to give Walton belief that this team has a legitimate shot at putting together a special type of season this year.
“We’re turning a corner on the little mistakes and they pop back up,” Walton said. We just have to continue to show them this stuff. We never have to preach effort. I always get that from them.”
Caleb Barnes does a little bit of everything for Broadway, leading the team in rebounds.
As he continues to grow confidence as a scorer, he said he’s trying to find a healthy balance
“Lately, I’ve been taking everything in, everything the coaches have been telling me,” Caleb Barnes said. “I’ve been trying really hard in practice to get more shots up and sometimes they’re there. I’m very unselfish with the ball. I want to shoot, but I also want to find a better opportunity to score for my teammates. They say I don’t know how much skill I have, how much potential I have. They put a lot of trust in me, so I’ve been trying to step up and shoot more. I’m just going to keep going at it.”
It’s an old-school cliche for coaches to say the little things are what wins championships.
But for the Gobblers, that’s exactly what has led them to an unexpectedly strong start this year.
And, according to Walton, that’s what Broadway will continue to lean on moving forward.
“Everyone is taking those steps forward,” Walton said. “We talk to them every day. We just take those occasional steps backward in games. We just have to hope we have enough time left in this season to polish everything out and really be the team I think we can be. If we can put some complete games together, I really think they will be pleased with themselves.”