Winchester-Jones picking up his game

Published 9:57 pm Monday, January 26, 2015

Dowagiac junior Brandon Winchester-Jones goes to the basket against South Haven during Friday night’s Wolverine West Division contest. (Leader photo/KELLY SWEENEY)

Dowagiac junior Brandon Winchester-Jones goes to the basket against South Haven during Friday night’s Wolverine West Division contest. (Leader photo/KELLY SWEENEY)

If you were to talk to any one of the fans who fill the Dowagiac High School gym on game nights, or any of the opposing coaches right after game, Dowagiac boys basketball coach Danum Hunt has garnered himself quite the reputation for making in-game adjustments that succeed a majority of the time.

When it comes to coaching at smaller schools, having success with in-game strategy shifts can be a dubious task.

Whether it be because of personnel shortages, poor stamina or depth, injuries, or a flat out lack of perception, taking advantage of something you see unfolding in front of you in real time can be a tumultuous endeavor.

Luckily, for the Dowagiac faithful, its one Hunt excels at.

With his team struggling to consistently find baskets, while simultaneously trying to stave off a feverish rally by a quick-paced opponent, Hunt went to his bench in search of an x-factor to stem the tide of a potential momentum shift.

In Friday night’s 69-59 victory over South Haven, Hunt found his catalyst in one of the more unlikely spots on the bench.

Junior guard Brandon Winchester-Jones.

Eight games into the season, Winchester-Jones found himself in the midst of a multi-game slump. Both he and his coach knew things weren’t going the way they should be for the lighting quick point guard.

“He’d been a little off for a while,” Hunt said. “Basketball, like most things, requires confidence to be successful. Brandon didn’t look confident in his game our last few games; but I knew it was only a matter of time until he returned to his usual self.”

And boy did he ever.

Throughout the second quarter of their game against the Rams, the Chieftains looked incapable of putting a ball in the ocean if they were shooting from the beach. They were clinging to a lead that was all but being evaporated by missed shot after missed shot.

That’s when Hunt turned to Winchester-Jones for a spark.

“Coach told me to attack and be aggressive; and that’s what I tried to do,” Winchester-Jones said. “After a couple of shots went through, I started to feel it, and my teammates were supporting of me, I just wanted to play my best for them.”

In a quarter where the Chieftains were only able to muster 11-points, Winchester-Jones scored eight-of-them.

He finished the game with 11-points total, which ranked him fourth amongst his teammates, but it was his big second quarter, coupled with his excellent ball-handling and tenacious defense that his coach said delivered his team a conference victory in a hard-fought game.

“I was really proud of the way Brandon handled himself in that game. It was his ability to control the flow of the game for team that really got us the win tonight. Sure, other guys had more productive games statistically, but it was really his play that got us where we wanted to go.”

For his part, Winchester-Jones said he thought this game would go a long way in getting him back on track.

“I needed this game, and I think it will help me in the future. I just have to stay positive and play for my teammates, as long as we’ve got each other’s backs, we’ll be fine.” He said.