ALA boys basketball enjoying solid 2022-23 season
Few years have truly been kind to the ALA boys basketball team, which hasn’t had a lot of success.
Although the Eagles won 18 games in their inaugural season in 2006-07, no team since has managed more the 13 victories (the 2019-20 ALA squad went 13-9).
But this year’s Eagle team and head coach Ronnie Ross are determined to change that — and are well on their way to doing so.
Wednesday night’s Region 15 opener at Providence Hall exemplified the growth of this ALA team.
The Eagles raced out to a big lead, going up by as many as 19 points over the Patriots early in the second half.
But Providence Hall got hot from long range, making six treys in the second half and blitzing ALA to get back into the game.
The Patriots had all the momentum when they cut the deficit to just three points midway through the fourth quarter and the Eagles needed to find an answer.
“What happens is when you have a group of guys that haven’t won before, when they start to win, they got to be humbled,” Ross said. “They think, ‘OK, this is easy.’ Then we get punched in the mouth and we start to panic. I have to settle the troops and tell them basketball is a game of runs. They made their run, but we can’t continue to panic. Let’s execute, let’s slow down and let’s be patient.”
This time, ALA did just that. The Eagles closed the game on a 12-0 run to secure their 11th win of the season, 49-34.
“We just needed to listen to Coach Ross,” ALA senior center Mason Farr said. “He knows what he is doing. We’ve got to stick to the game plan. Sometimes we get a little off. We think we are going to win but we’ve got to close the game out and play together.”
Ross talked about how there have been a number of games where his team has followed a similar script. While mistakes resulted in a disappointing loss at Carbon, ALA did make the key plays to get its biggest win of the season, defeating Class 5A Murray in a tournament, 55-52.
“When we’ve played teams from bigger schools, we’ve played relaxed and free,” Ross said. “When we played Murray, we wanted to prove we could hang with them. We executed everything and it was a game where everything had to be executed perfectly. We did that and we got a chance to win. We actually lead by 10 or 12 points then let them come back and tie it. We we stayed with it. We’re trying to change the mentality so that we play the same, play with an even keel. Sometimes they get up and down but my job as a coach is to keep them up.”
Most of the Eagle losses have been to larger-school opponents like Orem, Spanish Fork, Provo and RSL Academy, but Ross has been pleased with how his team is growing.
“I want these kids to have success and work to continue to get better,” Ross said. “We want to be playing our best when the playoffs start. They’ve been doing a good job but I’m a coach. We all want to have that perfect game where you do everything right. That’s what we have to strive for.”
From an athlete’s perspective, Farr said it’s amazing to be able to experience consistent winning.
“The coaches have been pushing us and it feels great,” the Eagle senior said. “It feels good for the school and unites us. That success is building us, and it’s making us want to push and keep going farther and farther.”
As a senior, he is looking forward to getting a lot more wins and hoping to make a deep run in the 2A tournament.
“Our school has never really succeeded in any sports,” Farr said. “We only have one state championship and that was in soccer. For me with my career, it’d be amazing for me to maybe even show college coaches what I can do. But I hope it brings happiness to the school and momentum for these guys for next year after I leave.”
ALA (11-6, 1-0) now gets a week off before it hosts Summit Academy in Spanish Fork on Jan. 18 at 7 p.m.