Halfway through the season, Midland boys’ basketball coach Shannon Hooker has developed an unscientific barometer for gauging how his team is doing.

“On the nights when we’re playing good man-to-man defense and playing unselfishly we’re a good team and when we don’t do those things everything heads south for us real fast,” he told Texas Scorecard. “It’s almost like two different worlds.”

All the trial and error has the Bulldogs at 12-10 at this point in the season, but feeling as if all the lessons learned are finally about to pay off in a big way.

“With district play set to start, we feel like we’ve made a lot of progress and the guys have finally internalized what it is we need to do to have the kind of success we’re looking for,” Hooker added.

Hooker has at least four good reasons for his unbridled optimism.

Senior guard Rahkiem Petterson, described by Hooker as an “explosive slasher,” leads the Bulldogs at 18 points and six rebounds per game. His senior backcourt mate, Nathaniel Rodriguez, provides a bit of everything for Midland, averaging 16 points, six assists and four rebounds as the team’s quarterback.

On the inside, 6-foot-8 sophomore center Brett Canis is coming on fast, averaging 17 points and seven rebounds in his first season of varsity play.

Hooker is also hoping the return from injury of 6-foot-6 senior big Xadrian Vanburen will provide a spark. Since returning from an early-season knee injury, Vanburen has averaged 12 points and six rebounds.

“We like to put pressure on you on defense and get out and run once we’ve forced the pace,” Hooker added. “We’re expecting that if we keep working hard and growing we’ll be able to make a good push for playoffs.”

Hooker points to how five of the Bulldogs’ early season losses have come by four points or less as further evidence that they can compete with pretty much anyone when they’re on their game.

“If we take care of the things we need to do, I feel like we can be alright,” he said.

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