Bulldogs take 'defense first' mentality entering season-opener
Dennis Shorter was never much of a scorer.
Prior to transferring from Mainland before the start of the 2017-18 school year, Shorter played on the Buccaneers’ basketball team in a minimal role.
Flagler Palm Coast kicked off the preseason with a 47-39 loss to the Jones Tigers on the night of Tuesday, Nov. 21, at FPC High School. Shorter, who was a standout cornerback for the Bulldogs’ football team this season, led FPC with 15 points.
But despite the uncharacteristic scoring outburst, the area’s 2017 interception leader still hangs his hat on one thing: defense.
“I’m pretty much a defense-first kind of guy,” the 5-foot-9 Shorter said. “Just taking what I learned on the football field and bringing it to the basketball court. You can use whatever you’ve learned in any sport.”
Despite Shorter's play, the Bulldogs struggled to score for much of the night against a Tigers’ team that featured length and athleticism in the frontcourt. After a three-pointer from the left wing by one of the Tigers’ guards ripped the net, FPC was down 38-22 with 4:50 remaining in the third quarter.
The Bulldogs were able to cut the 16-point gap in half before the end of the game thanks to improved play from returning forward Dmahgio Warren, Shorter and — most imporantly — an aggressive defense.
“Because it’s a preseason game, we purposely schedule a good ball club so we can see where we’re at,” FPC coach Gary McDaniel said. “We played better defensively in the second half, but there’s a lot we need to work on.”
With over 20 years of coaching experience, McDaniel has always focused on making his teams compete at the highest level on defense.
“I’m a defensive coach, and this is a defensive program,” he said. “Our defense has to take the other team out of the game. It’s what we’ve won with here, and it’s what we plan to keep doing. We just weren’t able to do that tonight.”
The Bulldogs have one more preseason game — a home matchup with Palatka at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 24 — before their season-opener against Seabreeze at 7 p.m. on Nov. 30 at FPC High School.
“We’ve got improvement ahead of us,” McDaniel said. “But we’ll find it. We’re young and inexperienced. I’m not surprised that we were going to start slow. We kind of expected that.”