<
>

Athleticism key in DeSoto's win over Coppell

HALTOM CITY, Texas -- DeSoto proved Wednesday that its athleticism alone makes it one of the top teams in the state and possibly the country.

ESPN Fab 50 No. 33 DeSoto blew out state-ranked Coppell 77-39 on lockdown defensive play in the opening round of the Whataburger Basketball Tournament.

DeSoto held Coppell to just five points in the first quarter and 18 points in the first half. Coppell never seemed comfortable against DeSoto’s double-team trap, resulting in an exorbitant amount of first-half turnovers.

Austin Mankin finished with 10 points and was the only Cowboy to tally double-digit points in the game. Coppell slashing forward Jett Raines was held to just eight points.

“We were faster, stronger and quicker,” DeSoto guard and Duke commit Mat Jones said. “Our work in the weight room in the offseason showed tonight.”

Jones opened DeSoto’s dominating performance with two 3-pointers in the first frame and led all scorers with 22 points, most of which came in the third quarter.

DeSoto’s offense was never selfish, working the ball around the perimeter and inside at a level that would make even Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski proud.

“I love playing with these guys,” Jones said. “Of course I think about what it’s going to play about Duke and it does resemble the type of offense they run.”

Years of work building chemistry within the team creates such a well-oiled, selfless machine, Jones said.

“We don’t care who scores,” Jones said. “If you have confidence to do what you need to do, then you can have it.”

DeSoto advances in the winners bracket to play Plano West on Thursday at 12:30 p.m.

The win gives DeSoto the chance to come away with a tournament championship, but it also gives the Eagles a chance to prove to the area that they shouldn’t have to live under the shadow of Flower Mound Marcus and some of the Metroplex’s top-ranked teams.

“Sometimes we’re under the radar -- we tend to get overlooked,” Jones said. “We just try to make a statement one game at a time.”