SALADO — Kenny Mann has options.
While some teams are blessed to sport a talented player capable of single-handedly changing the complexion of a contest, Salado’s head coach cannot make such a claim.
Rather, Mann feels fortunate to carry multiple weapons on his roster.
“I’ve got 10 guys on varsity,” he said, “and all 10 players are capable and really good options. So, on any given night, any one of those guys can step up and carry the load for us.”
On the second day of the team’s home tournament, the Eagles proved the statement was true.
Salado won a pair of games by at least 20 points Friday to complete a sweep of its pool and place itself in the championship game against either Thorndale or Cameron Yoe at 5 p.m. today.
Although any player could potentially carry the squad offensively, Mann never knows who will fill the role.
“It just kind of plays itself out,” he said. “The plan for the first quarter or even first half will be to just even the minutes out and see who has the hot hand or who is playing well that night. Then, in the second half, we’ll use the guys who were hot even more.
“So, any guy can be the man for us.”
The Eagles relied on point guard Eli Pittman in their opening game of the day. The senior scored 15 of his game-high 17 points in the first half as Salado cruised to a 64-32 victory against Gatesville.
The Hornets jumped out to a 15-12 advantage behind Logan Edwards, who recorded eight points in the first period.
But it would not last.
The Eagles outscored Gatesville 23-5 in the second period and never slowed down as three players — Noah Mescher, Peyton Miller and Josh Goings — contributed eight points apiece to complement Pittman’s outing.
Then, Salado guard Austin Abel caught fire against Rosebud-Lott, connecting on six 3-pointers in the first half to propel the Eagles to a 58-36 victory. The senior finished with 18 points, while teammate Cade Scallin also produced double digits, tallying 13 points.
“Having so may options makes my job a lot easier,” Mann said. “And not only are they good players, but they are really good guys, who are a lot of fun to be around.
“They root for each other, have good times with each other and are coachable. Regardless of what happens, this is a good group to be around.”
Now, the Eagles look to win the Coach Smith Tournament championship for a second consecutive year with a victory today.
Mann, however, knows it will not be easy despite winning the first three games by a combined 74 points.
“We take a lot of pride in trying to win this tournament,” he said, “and it is always tough.
“And as far as I know, we’ve never won it in back-to-back years, but that’s our goal this year.”
Salado Coach Smith Tournament
- Gatesville 52, Jarrell 50, OT
- Salado 64, Gatesville 32
- Salado 54, Rosebud-Lott 34
SALADO 54, ROSEBUD-LOTT 34
At Salado tournament
Z.Buhl 3, Bravo 5, Perez 2, S.Buhl 11, Truesdale 2, Reyna 11.
Self 1, Jenkins 5, Mescher 2, Pittman 0, Scallin 13, Miller 3, Goings 3, Brown 9, Abel 18.
Rosebud-Lott 9 8 13 4—34
Salado 10 19 12 13—54
3-Point Goals—Rosebud-Lott 2 (Z.Buhl, Bravo), Salado 8 (Abel 6, Goings, Brown). Free throws—Rosebud-Lott 5-9, Salado 4-10. Fouled Out—None. Total Fouls—Rosebud-Lott 8, Salado 14. Technicals—None.
SALADO 64, GATESVILLE 32
At Salado tournament
Mata 2, Adams 7, Fails 2, Sheets 3, Edwards 10, Williams 3, Wigley 0, Stone 2, Matthew 3, DeLong 0.
Self 7, Jenkins 4, Mescher 8, Pittman 17, Scallin 7, Miller 8, Goings 8, Brown 2, Abel 3.
Gatesville 15 5 12 0—32
Salado 12 23 17 12—64
3-Point Goals—Gatesville 3 (Edwards 2, Adams), Salado 2 (Self, Abel). Free throws—Gatesville 5-18, Salado 14-24. Fouled Out—Fails, Scallin. Total Fouls—Gatesville 20, Salado 21. Technicals—Jenkins.