- Mercedes Mayer, ESPNDallas.com
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FORT WORTH, Texas -- Quite possibly what Fort Worth Arlington Heights coach Gary Collier had struggled with the most as his team started on a 23-game win streak this season was keeping his players focused in practice.
The third-year head coach thinks he may have his team's attention now.
The Yellow Jackets lost for the first time this season Tuesday night, falling 61-52 to Fort Worth Trimble Tech at Billingsley Field House.
Andre Crear led Tech (16-6, 7-3 in District 7-4A) with 19 points, and Jordan Gray scored 13. For Arlington Heights, Avery Taylor scored 13 points, Marquis Jackson scored 12 and Chris Strong and Willie Byrd both added 11 points.
"A lot of people are saying that's what we need," Collier said. "I didn't want it, but it leaves a little bad taste in our mouth, and maybe that'll help us in practice.
"Just having this feeling, hopefully they don't want to have it again."
Heights (23-1, 9-1) built a 44-33 lead with 2:58 to go in the third quarter by doing what they had been doing best all season. They were tough to the basket, relentless on the press and they shared the ball, always seeming to make the right play.
But Trimble Tech finished the game by outscoring Heights 28-8. It also rebounded and applied pressure.
"I want to work harder and come out with a vengeance," Strong said. "Before, we didn't let up, and if teams turned the ball over we would crash on it. We made up for our mistakes by playing hard."
Collier admitted that Trimble Tech is probably the most talented team in District 7-4A, "hands down," he said.
But Collier has guided the Yellow Jackets to their best season since the early 1970s by taking a page from coaching legend Robert Hughes Sr.'s book. Collier and Trimble Tech coach Wendell Ivory played together under Hughes -- the nation's all-time winningest basketball coach who retired in 2005 -- at Fort Worth Dunbar.
"I try to put in a lot of things [Hughes] Senior taught me when I was playing for him, especially from a discipline aspect," Collier said. "He was a firm believer that no learning will take place until discipline is set, and that's true."
Collier and the Yellow Jackets didn't really like the feeling they had after the loss to Trimble Tech -- a feeling they had not experienced this season until Tuesday night. But Wednesday's practice should be one with new focus and determination for Heights to finish the last eight regular-season games strong.
"We've got to learn from our mistakes," Collier said. "You can learn just as much from a loss as a win -- probably more."
20hEthan Sherwood Strauss