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Eight games into the season, the boys basketball coaching transition at Durant High has been mostly seamless -- and darned near flawless.
Behind new coach Trent Tice, Durant (7-1) has assumed a solid lead in the Class 5A, District 8 race. The Cougars' latest quality win came Wednesday, when they got 31 points from 6-foot-2 junior Andre Nation in a 63-49 triumph against Plant City.
Two weeks ago, Nation nearly posted a double-double (25 points, eight rebounds) in a 62-47 upset of Newsome.
"I think team balance (is key)," said Tice, who coached Durant's JV for four seasons before being promoted when Jeff Shotwell resigned to spend more time with his family.
"We've got a lot of guys playing within themselves. Andre Nation's scoring a lot of points for us, but he's not taking too many shots."
Tice, an Ohio native who graduated in 2004 from Bowling Green, also singles out the play of 5-8 senior point guard Jeff Thomas (13.3 ppg, 2.9 apg) and 6-foot senior guard Jordan Mitchell (9.4 ppg). Those three combined for two turnovers against Newsome.
"We played really good defense and Andre had a big game that night," said Tice, whose club hasn't lost since a two-point season-opening defeat to Spoto.
"He was all over the place, scoring and blocking shots. We just kind of out-executed them. That was some of the guys' first big game they didn't turn the ball over."