The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

December 27, 2012

Mills: 6-1 Pacers have room to improve

By Ryan Costello, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — A 60-53 win in Woodward to extend the Pacers’ winning ways to a fifth game seemed like the perfect way for Enid to enter more than two weeks of winter break.

Or maybe not.

“After the Woodward game, we sat down, and we watched it, we assessed it,” said Enid girls basketball coach Robb Mills. “The girls had their best two practices of the year after that game. We hooked it up, and I got after them pretty hard, and they responded.”

Mills, who was quick to give credit to Woodward for pushing the No. 12 Pacers in the Dec. 18 tilt, thought the road test was a chance for Enid to finally play a complete game after failing to do so despite five wins in six tries to open the season.

But even with 24 points from Courtney Chelf and a season-high 12 from forward Grace Enmeier, Mills said the Pacers should have scored more easily, and if they’d played better defense, they wouldn’t have needed to. The refrain was a familiar one from the Pacers head coach in his second year, especially after his first was season was cut short in a 49-41 playoff loss to Bartlesville to remind him that awfully good often isn’t good enough.

“We’re happy about our 6-1 record, but I think collectively, as a group, we all feel like no one’s seen us play our best yet,” he said. “We’re in a good position, because we haven’t put it all together yet, and they have us ranked 12, so we’ve got a chance if we pull it all together to move up. We like where we are, but I don’t think we’re satisfied.”

Mills didn’t get much argument from his players, who don’t play again until a Jan. 4 visit to Guthrie, which despite a 1-2 start, is ranked 16th among 5A’s girls teams.

“We haven’t played our best basketball yet,” Chelf said. “It’s coming after Christmas break.”

“We haven’t,” fellow starter Haven Bay agreed. “There have been patches when we’ve played better than others, but when we all play together, it’s pretty hard to stop us.”  

Chelf, who twice has been limited to single-digit scoring this season — the senior was held below 10 only once in 24 games last year — said her best is yet to come, too.

“I’d rather have my low games before Christmas than after Christmas, when it matters the most,” said Chelf, whose 15.1 points per game leads the Pacers but is almost five points below last season’s average. “I’ve been working really hard over the break.”

That break, a 17-day stretch without a competitive floor appearance, isn’t something Mills said he prefers to have every year, but in 2012-13, the time off could be what the Pacers need to find that elusive complete game.

“It’s kind of a fresh start for us,” he said. “In years past, it’s felt like you start your whole season over, but this year, I’m not sure I mind it. It gives us a chance to work out some kinks.”