If the Cary Invasion are to advance to the Tobacco Road Basketball League championship for another year, they will have to overcome two things.
The first is their new rival out of Durham, the Bull City Legacy.
The second is their own cobwebs. The Invasion last played on May 21, ending the regular season with a 10-2 mark.
But the West division of the TRBL had plenty of games left. So while the West sorts out its divisional standings, the Invasion have had a long layoff.
“It’s good that we have the opportunity to work to get better as a unit. The hard part for us is we’re not playing anyone but ourselves,” first-year coach Erasto Hatchett said. “The guys work out all day at home. ... We’ve scrimmaged a little bit against each other and some other guys. It’s been going well.”
The Invasion have been to the championship game in all three years of existence, winning it all in its first season in 2011. It’s a point of pride to players who have been with the team for all three seasons, like Charles Ward, Anton Currie, Raheem Oshodi and Paul Wright.
“I think there’s a fire in them since they didn’t win it last year,” Hatchett said. “They’re hungry to put themselves in a situation where they have an opportunity to win (it all).”
Hatchett appreciated his team having known each other for a while.
“It’s just the continuity of them being able to gel – and already have that continuity with each other,” Hatchett said. “It gave me the opportunity to kind of observe, tweak a few things.”
Hatchett also senses his team wants to prove doubters wrong and bring back another title to Cary.
“It’s easy for them to get pumped up,” Hatchett said.
One of Hatchett’s biggest adjustments has been managing playing time for a team this deep.
Wright is averaging 24.6 points per game to lead the Invasion, part of a three-guard attack for Cary, including point guard Brandon Hickson and Freddie Little.
The western division’s PrimeTime Players, out of Rock Hill, S.C., have won the last two TRBL titles, but before the Invasion get to that step, they must defeat their nearby rivals.
Bull City has a 7-5 mark, finishing second in the East division. The two will tangle for the fourth time this year on Saturday at the Herb Young Center in downtown Cary at 6 p.m.
Cary beat Bull City 122-113, 107-105 and 109-105 in the regular season, which uses an unbalanced format.