Southeast boys basketball coach Melvin Herring isn’t one to let himself off the hook.
So, when he’s asked what he thinks his players learned during the regular season that they can use in a presumptive postseason run, he makes sure they are all in the same lot.
“It’s like I told the kids, I felt like I lost a game for us at the end of year,” Herring said. “And I had to get us back into what we do, how we play. Time goes on, you learn to be in situations and to handle each one differently. I’m always learning, and that’s not just a lesson for me. That’s for everybody.”
For opponents, a motivated, seasoned Southeast team is a scary prospect in the postseason, and the 16-4 Buffaloes open sub-state play at home on Thursday against Topeka (8-12). The winner of that game faces the Junction City-Larence Free State winner on Saturday night for a trip to the Class 6A state tournament.
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Southeast has one of the best backcourts in the state in senior Jerrick Harding (26.7 points) and sophomore Israel Barnes (19.7 points), but got a little bit exposed with two losses in its last four games — a 71-62 loss to Bishop Carroll and a 41-40 loss to Heights in which Herring decided to use the stall tactic for over four minutes in the first half.
And it was against Heights, ostensibly, that Herring did the one thing that opponents have struggled to do all year — take the ball out of the hands of Harding and Barnes. Southeast ran past Heights 69-51 in their first meeting on Jan. 5.
It’s a mistake he says he won’t be repeating as Southeast tries to win its first Class 6A title since 2008.
“Too early to stall,” Herring said. “Later in the game, I wouldn’t be opposed to doing it again, but that was the wrong time for it.”
Southeast, relatively inexperienced to start the season, is now a seasoned group with an entire, successful regular season under its belt. Both stars and role players.
“Stay together as team, use each other to feed off of and things usually go really well,” Herring said. “We have two powerhouse scorers, sure, but we need everybody to play at a high level. Guys like D’Andre Franklin and Milan Brown, who have sacrificed for the team all year long. Juan Manns, who has been big for us this year, and Richard Reed, who is just a freshman but can make a big impact.
“Every day, we prepare to compete and deal with whatever we’re confronted with. We need to be playing at our highest ability right now.”