In the short history of the Swallows Charter Academy boys basketball program, there was a different goal for games against Santa Fe League powers Crowley County and Rye.
Winning may be too tall of an order, the old goals decreed. The true goal was to just be competitive.
It’s fair to say that there’s a new set of goals now.
Last week, the Spartans claimed its first ever wins over Crowley County, a 2A state runner-up last season, and Rye, which moved back down to the 2A level this season after two years in the 3A classification.
Swallows defeated Crowley County 58-52 last Friday night and followed it up with a 43-33 home win over Rye.
Following the wins, Swallows (4-2, 2-1 SFL) is firmly in third place in the 10-team Santa Fe League, only trailing Hoehne and the second-ranked team in all of 2A, Holly.
Not to detract from its win over Crowley County, the program has been decimated by graduation and is struggling to rebound.
The Rye win, though, is different, head coach Tom Gallery said.
“This was a statement win,” Gallery said. “This was the best defensive game I’ve ever seen this team play in my three years here.”
Rye came into Saturday after having played several 3A teams and 1A powers in its transition back to the 2A classification. Running into the Spartans’ defense, the Thunderbolts were held to its lowest point total of the season.
Swallows surged to an 18-3 first quarter lead and led 28-12 at halftime, holding Rye’s top scorer, Damon Elation, to just three points in the first half and six overall.
Offensively, Devon Jones was sinking threes to give Swallows the big lead, scoring three treys in the first half and four overall in securing a 14-point night.
Jones was the pace-setter against Crowley County, as well, netting 24 points with three three-pointers, his eight-point fourth quarter surge helping Swallows to seal its win over the Chargers.
It all started with the defense, Jones said.
“They were hitting tough shots but we started playing good defense and locked them down,” Jones said. “It gives us a big confidence boost and will help us in our other games this season.”
With these touchstone wins in their pockets, Swallows is still looking forward, its Dec. 21 home showdown with first-place Hoehne serving as a definite measuring stick.
“If we continue to play solid defense and be smart offensively,” Gallery said, “I feel like we can with anybody. I really do.”