Vista Ridge head coach Clint Anderson has always wanted a team that can run his preferred offense. He believes he has it this season.
The Rangers lost a lot of size from their playoff team last season, but what has taken its place is a wealth of quickness and athleticism that Anderson hopes to parlay into a change in identity on offense this year.
“Offensively, the passes that we’re making look like great passes from the stands, but that’s part of the offense,” Anderson said. “They have to be smart and have a great basketball IQ. Defensively, we’re trying to make sure every shot is a hard shot.”
Darius McBride was named to the all-district first team as a sophomore last season. He returns this year as the focal point of the Rangers’ offense.
Anderson said the biggest thing that he has seen McBride improve in the last year is his shooting. The junior still prefers to drive to the rim, but his outside shot has made pump fakes even more dangerous. He scored 16 points in Vista Ridge’s home win against Rouse last week.
Senior guards and bother Bryce and Bryant Burton are the main facilitators for the Rangers and Lucas Dial — who led the Rangers with 17 points in their win over the Raiders — will be another key scorer.
“You have to know that other teams are going to look to hone in on him,” Anderson said. “The other guys have to be willing to step up and take some of that pressure off of him. They’re buying in and wanting to learn this offense.”
The focus last season was to go to 6-foot-6 forwards Brandon and Quinton Taylor, who played with their backs to the basket and gobbled up rebounds and have point guard Aaron Gregg make plays with athleticism and shotmaking ability.
The Taylor twins are playing at Labette Community College in Nebraska while Gregg is at McLennan Community College in Waco.
Vista Ridge went on to finish in a tie for third place and make the playoffs after winning a three-team seeding tournament against Leander and Vandegrift. The Rangers lost to San Antonio Roosevelt in the first round of the playoffs.
“A couple of the games that we lost this season, it seems like we’re rusty around the rim and we’re not making easy layups,” Anderson said. “On the defensive end, we’re just not blocking out. We lost size and some of the kids relied on it because we had the twins that would just get a rebound.”
The Rangers are in the heart of tournament play and won four of five games at the Cedar Creek Classic last weekend. They begin the Leander Lion Classic Tournament Thursday afternoon against Austin Anderson.
Vista Ridge begins district play on Dec. 22 at home against Lehman.
“They have a lot to work on getting into tournament season,” Anderson said. “(It’s good to play) bunches and bunches of games just getting reps against other teams and not just ourselves. We’re getting there.”