Up-tempo Yuma boys host Merino

If it is not working, change it.
That is exactly what the Yuma High School boys basketball team did. It has paid dividends so far.

“We completely changed our system,” head coach Dave Sheffield said. “We full-court press now, get out more in transition, drive to the basket and get quicker shots. We went from about 50 possessions to 80 possessions per game.”
The Indians won the 2018 and 2019 Class 2A titles, and were in the semifinals when the 2020 tourney was called due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
They started out 0-3 this season. That was enough for Sheffield and his staff.
The commitment to change came after last Tuesday’s loss in Imperial, Nebraska, to the Chase County Longhorns, dropping the Indians to 0-3. Their next game was Friday at home in the league opener against Holyoke.
“We had two practices to implement a new train of thought,” Sheffield said, “adding the full-court press, and the transfer from defense to offense. We’re just going full court and go.”

Cade Morton gets the ball upcourt against Sedgwick County, last Saturday in Julesburg. (Dave Gustafson)

It immediately paid off as the Indians romped to a 91-48 win over Holyoke. They then built a 16-point lead the next afternoon in Julesburg against Sedgwick County before holding on for a 61-59 win, improving to 2-3, and 2-0 in LPAA play.
Yuma is ranked No. 6 in this week’s Class 2A Top 15 (CHSAANow.com poll) and improved in the Rating Percentage Index to 10th as of the update on Thursday, February 11.
Now comes a stretch of three games against LPAA 1A schools. Merino visits today, February 11. The Rams entered this week 2-1 and 13th in the 1A RPI, and ranked No. 4 in the 1A Top 15. The Indians travel to Caliche on Friday, taking on a Buffaloes team that was 1-3 entering this week. Next up is a trip to Haxtun on Tuesday. The Fightin’ Bulldogs have started out 4-1, were
Clay Robinson dribbles while Sedgwick County’s Jared Ehmke provides defensive pressure, last Saturday in Julesburg. (Dave Gustafson)
fifth in the 1A RPI earlier this week and ranked No. 7 in the 1A Top 15.
Though only five games into the season, there are only 14 games this year, and Sheffield noted this weekend will already mark the halfway point.
“It’s a quick season this year, with very little prep time,” he said.
However, it appears the Indians have made the most of their precious prep time. Sheffield acknowledged facets of the Tribe’s new approach always is part of the game book, but they have committed to going to it full time.
The quicker pace also has opened the door to going deeper into the bench to keep players fresh.
“The kids off the bench have done a good job of keeping up the intensity and the pressure without any drop off,” Sheffield said.
Now the Indians suddenly are 2-0 in league play, tied with rival Wray for first place early in LPAA play.