Clawson boys’ hoops team doesn’t rest on ‘D,’ has lowest points-per-game allowed in entire MAC

By: Jason Carmel Davis | Royal Oak Review | Published February 6, 2012

 Clawson High’s Kentrail Holt, a senior guard, goes strong to the basket during a recent game against St. Clair Shores Lakeview.

Clawson High’s Kentrail Holt, a senior guard, goes strong to the basket during a recent game against St. Clair Shores Lakeview.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


CLAWSON — Clawson High senior guard Kentrail Holt said coach Billy Shellenbarger gives his squad a simple motto to live by when playing defense.

“Coach always just tells us to be relentless,” said Holt, whose team is tied with Marysville High (43.5) for lowest points-per-game allowed in the entire 36-team Macomb Area Conference.

“He says playing defense is more mental than physical, because you have to want to do it. We do want to do it, and that’s why we’ve won a lot of games this year.”

During practices, Shellenbarger works on several areas related to defense. The fourth-year coach, whose team at press time had a record of 13-1, 9-0 in the MAC Silver Division, stresses jumping out and switching on screens to prevent open shots. The Trojans, who like trap and full-court press, also work on communicating on defense — calling out picks — to help players who may be beaten on a dribble drive or with a shot fake.

Shellenbarger said conditioning on defense is just as important as scheme, touting the energy of the guys on his roster and their willingness to push on despite fatigue. For instance, he talked of a conditioning drill called “10 in 60” in which players sprint to various areas of the court with the goal being to complete the run in 60 seconds. Shellenbarger said work by his players has pushed that up to a “10 in 56” drill.

“I can teach it all day and talk about it all the time, but those guys are the ones who go out and do it every night,” Shellenbarger said. “I ask a lot of all of our guys on defense, and they’ve been fantastic. Everything we’ve worked on has paid off to this point.”

Shellenbarger, who noted much of his team’s defensive work came during preseason practices, said the Trojans set a goal at the start of the season to give up no more than 11 points a quarter. He tells his players keeping that goal in mind will them a better chance to win games.

“Coach always tell us too, to ‘look them in the eye’ when we’re guarding different guys, too,” senior guard Tywaun Watkins said. “That lets them know they’re going to have to deal with us all game long.”

Shellenbarger hopes that defensive intensity stays ramped up all season.

“Last year was the first time in 16 years Clawson won a MAC title. We’re 19-3 in our last 22 league games,” Shellenbarger said. “We hope to be 25-3 at the end of the season, and it’ll be our defense that gets us there and to another league title.”

Clawson next plays at 7 p.m. Feb. 10 against Center Line at Clawson High.