Tory Causey and Jayson Williams unleashed the fury last year.
That’s what Curtis High School boys basketball coach Tim Kelly called it. He expected the then-sophomores to hound opposing ballhandlers full court when they came off the bench, while providing an energy boost akin to a six-pack of Red Bull.
Things are different now. The Vikings lost five players to graduation from their Class 4A state championship team. They returned zero natural post players. They have zero seniors playing this year.
Unleashing fury in spurts off the bench is one thing, but now Causey and Williams are responsible for 32 minutes of it.
“Our thing always is defensive
pressure,” Williams said. “We did that last year great and it got us a 4A state championship.
“Kelly tells us all the time that we are quick enough to not let our man catch the ball. That’s our mentality: Don’t let our man catch it.”
The Vikings no longer have 6-foot-8 Jaurence Chisolm, 6-6 Isom Brown or 6-3 Andre Lewis (who played more like 6-10).
Williams, at 6-1, slides down to guard the post on occasion.
Their tallest starter is 6-3 Trevor Morrow, and 6-3 John Langrell comes off the bench.
“We had an advantage most nights down in the post last year,” Kelly said. “We made a concerted effort to get the ball down there. That is not the case this year.”
That means Curtis has no choice but to play nonstop, ball-hawking perimeter defense, especially if it plans to keep teams from attacking in the paint.
To get that done, Kelly had to break in mostly a new cast of players – including ninth-graders, who were allowed by the school district to play on the high school varsity team for the first time.
Then the next phase: How do you teach them all to press full court for 100 percent of a game? Simple.
“Lots of running,” Causey said.
Before the season started, Kelly had them run 20-25 “32s” — a conditioning drill that requires sprinting, stopping and back-pedaling the length of the court — every practice.
Ask how difficult those first practices were, and Williams laughs.
“That was the hardest thing I’ve ever went through in my life,” he said. “There was a lot of yelling, and a lot of 32s.
“We ran last year, but it definitely wasn’t as much as this year. We went from seniors who have been there for the past two or three years to a good 15 to 20 players new to the program. It was a hard transition.”
Judging by the Vikings’ success, the hard work appears to have paid off.
Curtis was 15-1 through its first 16 games last season. This year, the Vikings are 14-2. They’re also 11-1 in the SPSL South Division – the same as they were last year through 12 league games.
That’s because Causey and Williams set a furious example on the defensive end each game.
“Tory and Jayson, one of the great things about them is they just have great motors,” Kelly said. “They don’t come out of the game. They don’t really get tired. They just keep going. They are just disrupters on the court.”
Added Williams: “In the beginning, it definitely wasn’t as intense as it is now. It feels like it’s starting to click in everybody’s heads that if we play great defense, it’s going to lead to great offense. It’s starting to click that defense wins championships.”TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677 firstname.lastname@example.org @Cotterill44