For the Clarendon Hall varsity boys basketball team, the second half of the season is a time to refocus and regain the intensity that propelled it to a 7-3 start and the top of SCISA Region III-1A.
The Saints have dropped two games in a row after winning seven of their first eight games, but head coach Anthony Reitenour said as much as he hates to lose, the team's Jan. 2 loss to Dorchester on a buzzer beater and to 3A Orangeburg Prep in a holiday tournament might have been just what his team needed.
"We started off pretty strong," Reitenour said. "We had a little hiccup last week and came out kind of flat. I think the holidays kind of slowed us down a little bit and we got a little lazy, but this first full week of practice, finally getting back into the gym after the weather and everything, the team is pretty fired up and motivated, and I think the rest of the season, as far as the region goes, is looking pretty good for us if we keep playing the way we have been.
"Dorchester got our attention a little bit and woke us up, and that might have been the best thing for us," he said. "We were winning pretty easily with a lot of hustle and a lot of pressure, and I think the guys kind of got above themselves a little bit, and I think (the loss) might have helped. We've been kind of going through the motions, and up to then, our only other losses were our first game (a 1-point road loss to Williamsburg Academy) when we didn't have half our team back yet and then OP in the tournament.
"The guys kind of realized that we've got to get back that intensity we had at the beginning of the season, and they seem pretty motivated. As a coach, I hate to say it, but I think we kind of needed it," Reitenour said.
The Saints have four players averaging in double figures scoring, led by sophomore Zyan Gilmore, who is pouring in almost 28 points per contest. Kylic Horton, a 6-foot-3-inch eighth-grader, is averaging close to 20 points per game. Sophomore Tyrese Mitchum, Horton's older brother, is averaging 14 points and leads the team with 7.2 rebounds per game, and senior captain Dylan Way is averaging just under 11 points per game.
"(Gilmore has) just been phenomenal for us on both sides of the ball, from rebounds and steals to assists and scoring," Reitenour said. "He's kind of the catalyst that gets everybody involved.
"Dylan Way started out kind of slow, but here lately, he's been getting that confidence back. He's our returning captain and has found his niche again and is turning things around."
Reitenour said his team has set its sights on next week's rematch with Dorchester, a team it defeated 69-63 in their first meeting.
"We beat them in a tournament over the holidays and didn't have much of a problem," Reitenour said. "But then we went to their place and they snuck one on us, so the boys are pretty motivated to get out there and get a chance to make ourselves the clear-cut No. 1 in Region III."
The Saints were set to face St. John's Christian on Thursday, a team they defeated 98-67 earlier in the season.