Hallsville's boys' basketball team is hoping for a win as an early Christmas present. The Bobcats are slated to host the Canton Eagles at 5 p.m. today.
"After this game, we've got a week break, so it would be so good to get a win," senior guard Shadd Berg said. "That's what we're hoping for."
The Bobcats are currently 9-8 and are hoping to keep a winning record going into Christmas. They have high expectations for the remainder of the season.
"We want to finish at least fourth (in District 16-5A) and go to the playoffs," senior guard/forward Kobe Hogan said.
"We just have to continue getting better as a team," junior guard Jeremy Swalley added.
Last season's squad was led by five senior starters. This year, there are only four seniors on the Bobcats' roster. One of them is guard Rowdy Smith, who refers to himself as a quiet leader but knows the responsibility of his role.
"I think the person under you kind of looks up to you," Smith said.
According to head coach Rusty Walker, Hallsville is full of players who have embraced their roles.
"All these guys on the team are all playing a role that's vastly different from they were playing," Walker said. "For that reason, there have been some really good times this year and some success and there has been some adversity that we're having to fight through but this group doesn't keep their heads down.
"They come back and get back to work the next day because we have to. We are looking forward to seeing Santa Claus.
"Every night, we try to be the hardest team as far as our effort," Walker continued. "We try to play harder than the other team. We try to control the things that we can control.
"Lately we've had some situations where we've been our own worst enemy. We've had some situations where we've gotten our heads down and we know as a group, because we've met about it, we can't continue to do that. I think with all teams, you're so much better off when you're controlling what you can control.
"You cannot control the other team. You only control your effort, your enthusiasm and your intensity. If you have a night where you don't shoot well or you have a night a night where the ball's bouncing against you, maybe you can fight through and win anyway, but if you don't play with effort, intensity and enthusiasm and you start worrying about the wrong things, you don't have a chance to win.
"Those are the things we're going to overcome and these guys are going to pull together. We're coaching great young men. These young men are so high-character, I can't even believe it sometimes."
The feeling between the players toward their coach is a mutual one.
"We made the playoffs my sophomore year but we didn't last year," Berg said. So I really want to go out and make the playoffs my senior year and get a gold ball, especially for Coach Walker because he's never won a playoff game here. It would mean so much."
There's a lot of basketball to be played before then and the Bobcats are hoping to earn a win tonight.
"We've got Canton coming into the Bobcat den," Walker said. "It's holiday theme night so I might even wear a holiday tie tomorrow. It might be a first. I'll do whatever it takes. We want to go into the break on a positive note."
The varsity is slated to tipoff around 5 p.m., following the freshmen and JV games. The Bobcats will return to action when they take part in the Leroy Romines Tournament. Hallsville will take on Longview Thursday Dec. 28 at 11 a.m. and Hempstead that same day at 3:30 p.m. Then Friday, Dec. 29 they are slated to go up against Liberty-Eylau at 10 .m. and Trimble Tech at 4 p.m. All games Saturday Dec. 30 are to be determined.