The teams of District 11A concluded their pre-district schedule of games Friday night and began their district schedules on December 4. During this time frame the teams competed against teams from different districts and even classes.
For all these teams, pre-district play offers a period to assess your talent and jell as a unit. This is particularly important for the boys just finishing football as it allows the dual athletes to make the transition from one sport to another.
Having played both sports in high school and coached athletes doing both, I can tell you it is needed. The basketball and football complement each other, but it takes time to successfully make the transition.
After observing the pre-district schedules of all the 11A teams, I have to say that I am impressed by the quality of teams that they competed against. Some teams competed against much larger schools and all played against stiff competition. These schedules may not make for an impressive record, but it will make them stronger in the long run.
It is important for all of us to remember that basketball is a long season. It’s not a sprint but a marathon. I have often contended that it is comprised of three phases. Our teams are currently in the first phase. You want to be playing your best in February not November. I encourage all our fans to keep this in mind as the season progresses and give your teams time to grow.
Friday night, Joyce and I had the opportunity to cover the Gleason-Huntingdon games on WRJB 95.9. The girl’s game was of interest, not just to fans of the two squads but to area fans as well as this was a matchup of two of the areas-states best programs. In short, this game provided a good assessment of where each squad stood as a team.
As the teams warmed up, it was evident that both teams had been impacted heavily by graduation. Both squads were comprised of young faces and few starters from last year. Despite the youth factor it became evident from the outset that both squads were comprised of fierce competitors.
Alli Jones and Adyn Swenson are the only two starters returning for Huntingdon from last year’s squad.
Jones, who is a senior, has been a starter since her sophomore year and has shown her versality as a player time and again during her career with the Fillies. Due to an injury, Kaci Fullerhas been called upon to handle many of the ball handling chores for this year’s squad. She is a strong leader and tough competitor as was evidenced Friday night. She ended the contest with nine points.
Swenson, who is a junior, is once again playing in the post position. Last season she and Marisa Belew comprised one of the best dual post combinations in our area, if not the state. Without Belew, Swenson is having to adjust her game as they played off each other so well last season.
Swenson scored seven of her nine points in the second half when points were sparse for the Fillies. As the game progressed, she elevated her level of physical play and held her own with Gleason’s Shelbie Burton who is one if not the most physical players she will face this year.
Tyasia Reed while not a starter on last year’s team played a vital role coming off the bench. Being a good athlete and strong competitor, she competes well on both ends of the floor. She was injured early in the second quarter and did not return to the game. She had five points and no fouls at the time. She is a player the team is counting on to play big in big situations.
Brooke Butler and Addison Postlethwait are both sophomores and fill out the starting lineup for HHS. These two will be exciting to watch this season as they grow into their positions. Neither was intimidated during the contest and upped their game as the game progressed. Both finished the contest with six points.
Kamaya Harris who is also a sophomore came off the bench when Reed was injured and did a commendable job running the offense.
Samantha Dunn who is a senior Macey Culbreath a junior came off the bench and gave some valuable time to the squad.
In the end the Lady Bulldogs outscored the Fillies 15-4 in the fourth quarter to win the contest 45-35. During this time span Gleason converted 9-10 free throws. Kenady Atkins led the charge in the final quarter with eight points. She was 6-6 from the charity stripe. She finished 7-8 from the line and finished the contest with a game high of 20 points.
Overall the Lady Bulldogs are a well-coached team that is fundamentally sound and physically and emotionally tough. They are another team with a lot of new faces in the starting line up and it will take time to determine how good they will become by tournament time. The two teams meet again January 7 in Gleason.
Kaleel Bailey is the only remaining starter for the Mustangs from last year’s team. As many of these players also play football It will require a period of adjustment. Jonathan Kee, who coaches this squad, looks at the big picture and will allow his players to develop as the season progresses.
Friday night the Mustangs were led in scoring by Xavier White with 16 points, Dallas Willis with 14, and Kaleel Bailey with 11.
We will examine the Mustangs in depth following their contest on December 14 which will be broadcast on WRJB 95.9.
Elijah Young and Dawson Arnold led the Gleason boys in scoring with nine points each. The Bulldogs are a scrappy team that battles to the end of the contest.
The schedule of games for the upcoming week includes:
*December 3: Big Sandy at Houston County
*December 4: McKenzie at Clarksburg, HRB at Big Sandy, Carroll Academy at USJ, Huntingdon at West Carroll, East Hickman at Camden
*December 5: Magnolia Hebrew Academy at Carroll Academy
*December 7: Obion County at McKenzie, West Carroll at HRB, Clarksburg at Huntingdon, Fairview at Camden, Big Sandy at Natchez Trace
*December 10: Huntingdon at Natchez Trace, Perry County at Big Sandy *December 11: McKenzie at Big Sandy, HRB at Frank Hughes, Clarksburg at West Carroll, Huntingdon at Gibson County, Camden at Stewart County.
Of the above games WRJB 95.9 will broadcast the following: December 4 HRB at Big Sandy
*December 7: West Carroll at HRB.
Air time is 5:45 p.m. Game time is 6:00. Games may also be heard at wrjbradio.com
Our feature next week will be on the West Carroll squads.