Smith: Marshall Mavs made playoffs by playing for each other
Feb. 16, 2017 at 4 a.m.
Many people wouldn't have predicted the Marshall Mavericks to be in the playoffs this year, but it happened despite needing a lot to go their way.
First they needed to win their final three games, including Senior Night on Friday where they pulled out a triple-overtime win.
Kris Dunn, the team's only senior, kept their season alive twice, by forcing the first overtime then by scoring the game winner.
The Mavericks needed help from the Sulphur Springs Wildcats, who gave it to them with a 54-45 win over the Hallsville Bobcats.
"I don't even have words to describe it," junior guard Selah Smith said. "It was great, the whole thing. Kris Dunn, it was Senior Night and he's the only senior."
Marshall holds an overall record of 19-14 and they finished District 16-5A with a record of 5-7. Smith said the key to their late success has been playing as a team.
"Coach (Bobby) Carson has been pushing us during practice," Smith said. "He told us a couple weeks ago that if we're not going to play for each other, we might as well not play at all. That got to all of us. I guess we started playing as brothers you could say."
Their next task is taking on a Highland Park team in bi-district, a team that swept its way through district play.
"We've got to prepare for every game like it's our last, just like the last three games in district," Smith said. "If we didn't win those last three games, we wouldn't be in the playoffs."
Smith added the Mavericks have been through a lot together as a team, but it was the team aspect that carried them through tough times.
"We've handled a lot of adversity this year," Smith said. "A whole bunch of people stepped up, Kris Dunn, Corteze (Hurd), they do their thing. Then me, Kameron King, Tre Macon, all of us have stepped up for coach Carson."
Carson said Smith has come a long way since the start of the season when he was on the JV.
"He started off on the JV because he was just coming from football," Carson said. "It's one of those, 'get your basketball legs under you' things. He's been up and down a little bit. He's playing really, really well right now. He's always had the physical ability, it's just (a matter of) believing in himself. He's quick. He can jump. He can go left handed, finish at the rim. He's a pretty good three-point shooter and a pretty good defender. He's a really, really, really good kid. He's a good student. He's a good person and a good guy to have on the team and he's a junior. All this kids but Kris will be back next year."
"I've made a big improvement," Smith said. "Coach Boyd and coach Carson told me I could step up and handle it and I ended up getting moved up and now I'm starting."
The Mavs' Senior Night took place last Friday and they had a bye Tuesday so in order to keep his team in basketball shape, Carson scheduled a warm up game for Friday in Arp against Chapel Hill at 6 p.m.
"I didn't want to go over a week without a game," Carson said. "If we had played last night (Tuesday night), I would have been comfortable taking some time off but I didn't want to wait a week and a half until we played again. That's too long."
Marshall's playoff game against Highland Park is slated for Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Wills Point.
"We'll work hard, that's all I can say," Smith said. "We're going to play for each other."