By Evan Mohl
Killeen Daily Herald
SALADO – Despite having the same school nickname (Eagles), the Salado and Hearne basketball teams couldn't be more different.
Salado (13-7) likes to control the tempo and the clock while No. 16 Hearne (19-8) is a run-and-gun team that presses and isn't afraid to shoot at will.
The two squads will determine which style of play is better tonight in their bi-district playoff game at 7:30 at Cameron Yoe High School.
"Hearne is such a good transition team," Salado head coach Kenny Mann said. "We really have to make sure that we break their press and get back on defense."
In order to do that, Mann stressed the importance of playing Salado style of basketball – slowing things down and making Hearne work on the defensive end.
"We can't get rushed by their pressure," he said. "We have to work it down the floor, control the tempo at a slow pace and take advantage of our opportunities."
Salado is coming off an impressive five-point win in a warmup game against Grandview, which plays a similar style to Hearne. Grandview pressed the Eagles all day, but Salado handled it pretty well.
David Rosenau had a double-double – 17 points and 10 rebounds – in the game. The senior, who quarterbacked the Salado football team all the way to the state semifinals, averages 12.5 points per game and 6.5 rebounds.
Hearne is led by 6-foot-6 low-post player Forrest Rucker. The senior poses all kinds of matchup problems for Salado.
"Rucker's size allows their other players to go on the break," Mann said. "They just assume he's going to corral that rebound. We're just going to have to put a body on him and get some team rebounds."
Rucker committed to the University of North Texas as a wide receiver. For Salado, the major concern is what happens when he gets the ball in the high-post.
"I think our 1-3-1 zone will take care of him down on the block," Mann said. "We can trap him pretty effectively there. But when he gets in the high-post, we'll have to make some adjustments."
Last season, Salado won its bi-district game against Franklin before falling to Schulenberg by four points in the area round.
"We can win this game," Mann said. "We didn't play a lot of games this season because our football team went so far. Hopefully, we're going to hit our stride here."
Contact Evan Mohl at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7564.