Defensive approach feeds KC's transition game

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KIRTLAND — Acclimating to its pack line defensive system was a long process for the Kirtland Central boys basketball team over the last three years, but it’s proven to be a sustainable, long-term ingredient in the Broncos’ recent success.

Players spent the first two years of the coach Brian Dowdy era trying to nail down what’s required of the scheme, which is a matchup zone/man hybrid system. But the Broncos became big believers during a game against Grants in January.

KC repeatedly got its hands on the ball and took off for multiple transition buckets.

“It allows us to get into our spots and run the floor correctly. From there, we can run our secondary break, which often we run a lot,” senior point guard Jariah Setzer said.

The Broncos can put up big scoring outputs because getting numerous steals and tips is helping set up those chances to run in open space.

“It keeps us in our lanes a lot better,” senior wing Bryson Dowdy said.

And it has left opposing coaches scratching their heads in terms of how to deal with it.

“They don’t know what (defense) we’re actually running. Sometimes, they think it’s a 2-3 (zone), man, 1-3-1 (zone),” Setzer said.

KC can play faster inside and out in the pack line scheme, and it also allows players to use their arms and force contested shots.

“We’ve gotten a lot of tipped balls whenever (opponents are) passing it in the lane or swinging it around on the outside,” Dowdy said.

Dowdy also said the pack line defense could very well be the key to a strong 2017-2018 season because it fits the current team personnel well.

“We have a lot of long, lengthy guys that can move side to side pretty quick,” Dowdy said.

Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.

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