Ray Dunne (@RayDunneBTB)
Just one week ago, Central Bucks South sat 7-0 in the Suburban One Conference and 12-3 overall.
Now, following a loss to Spring-Ford on Saturday afternoon, the team’s third defeat in a row, the Titans appear to have caught a bug.
Literally and figuratively.
Aside from being the thick of high school basketball season, January and February also double as the sickest time of year. Just ask CB South head coach Jason Campbell, who says there have been six players and one assistant coach impacted by illness over the last two weeks.
“There’s only four standing that haven’t been sick,” Campbell said. “You tell them wash your hands. We bring our own separate water bottles, we’re not drinking or sharing the same cups and it still hasn’t helped.”
Despite the recent sickness and struggles over the past week, the Titans are enjoying a resurgent season a top of the Suburban One League’s Continental Conference. They still are in first place in the division and will still be in a favorable position in District 1 when the new power rankings come out.
The season has been a surprise to many, with CB South losing all but one starter -- senior forward Nate Robinson -- to graduation from a team that went 9-14 (5-7) a year ago.
Campbell saw his inexperienced group as a chance to mold his program into something new in the coming season.
“If it was a team that was going to play together and have chemistry and build it off of defense, then early in the season it gives you an opportunity to win games, build confidence, and then all the other stuff comes with it,” Campbell said. “You build your offense around [the chemistry] so our philosophy to establish the program this year was all about playing hardcore defense.”
A large part of this was determined in a meeting in the offseason between Campbell and Robinson on how the team was going to run in the upcoming season. Having been on varsity since his sophomore year, Robinson liked the change in direction for the team.
The 6-foot-tall guard embraced the changes and took it upon himself to help make them a reality.
“I expected [the team] to be ran kind of my way,” Robinson said. “Team oriented basketball, just like no isolation because the past seniors let it get out of hand, so I have to make sure everyone’s keeping their head straight on the team and not on themselves and their stats.”
While Robinson instills the vocal leadership on this team, junior forward Tommy Kuypers has elevated his game and quickly become the leader on offense for the Titans.
Lethal from both beyond the arc and inside the paint, Kuypers can score the ball, as exemplified by the 21 points (4-of-6 from 3-point rangee) he scored against Spring-Ford on Saturday.
“He’s been fantastic for us, really consistent, you look at the end at the box score and you’re ‘Wow, he had 16, 18 points’ and the way he gets them, you’re thinking maybe he scored four or six, but he has a really good mid-range game, he can get you points in the post,” Campbell said. “He has a very diverse game and he knows how to use that on the matchups he has which is why he’s been so solid all season.”
In spite of Kuypers’s solid performance, the Titans fell at the hands of Spring-Ford on Saturday afternoon. The Rams continued the momentum of Thursday night’s huge comeback victory over PAC-rival Perkiomen Valley into the first half of Saturday’s game, jumping all over CB South.
The second half featured more of CB South’s tough defense as it attempted to climb back into the game. The Titans outscored the Rams 32-26 in the second half and showed a strong resemblance to the team that opened the season on such a tear.
Despite the outcome, Campbell saw that second half as a reminder of what this team has been capable of doing all year long.
“We close out a lot of close games, every one of our games were close, we’ve had a couple that might have been nine, ten point games, so I think the difference there is that these guys believe in each other,” Campbell said. “Even when you’re down, you face adversity, you start battling your way back and tonight was an example of how we started chipping away, closing up the game.”
Even without the win, the Titans still remain at the top of the Suburban One Continental with matchups against three teams that currently have sub-.500 in the conference remaining on their league schedule.
Campbell still sees a lot of promise in the road ahead as soon as he can get everyone back on the same page.
“We‘ll get back to the basics on some of those things and we’ll tweak some stuff and we’ll finally have a chance to have some practices where we can build stuff into our playbook that we haven’t been able to do the past two weeks,” he said. “I think that’ll help us move forward and give us a good playoff run.”
As the team continues along and begins to move toward the district playoffs, Robinson feels the importance of these games and what he wants to deliver back to CB South.
“I just want to the first round bye and a home playoff game. We haven’t had one in a really long time, I think four or five years,” said Robinson. “If we get one those, it would provide a jump for our school.”