Basketball well under way

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 14, 1999

Sports Editor

If you happened to get out and catch any of the local basketball action this weekend, as a sports fan you should have been pleased.

Whether your team won or lost, there was some great basketball action going on in the area. Complete with highlight-reel plays, rivalries, and quite a few fantastic finishes.

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Just in our little area we had three games decided in the final seconds. So, here we go, just before the Christmas break and all the different teams are just starting to figure out what kind of season they are going to have.

Both Troy State teams have some work to do

There isn’t much more you can say about the Trojans’ last two games besides "Shucks!" Can it get any tougher for these guys?

They’re 4-4 overall, 1-0 in the TAAC, and granted, the losses aren’t conference games, but losing three of those games by only one-point apiece (two on last second shots) has got to be nerve-racking. A couple more of those buzzer-beaters and head coach Don Maestri might have to supply a difibulator on the sideline for his players.

I mean, how hard is that knowing that you are only six points away from being 7-1? Mighty tough I would imagine. Still, it’s only Christmas and the season is long. No matter what their overall record might be the Trojans are 1-0 in the TAAC. And the thing about being in close games, win or lose, you know what it’s like to play in them. That experience is very valuable and the ball can only drop so many times on one team before it bounces a different direction.

On a brighter note the Trojans are fifth in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage and ninth in treys per game. Not only that, but Detric Golden is ranked No. 10 in the country in assists while Matt Holman has hit 3.4 treys a game to nab an 18th ranking in the nation.

The Lady Trojans are having their own share of problems, but it’s not all on the court. TSU was only able to field eight healthy players against Samford in their second TAAC game of the season and only had seven players report in against Minnesotsa Sunday.

They are now 3-5 overall, 1-1 in TAAC play, but should have some help coming back when senior forward Keisha Ellis makes her long-awaited return giving the smaller lineup of Lady Trojans a go-to force on the inside. They hope that some of the other injuries will clear up by then as well.

Neither team is out of the woods, but there is always hope this early in the season.

CHHS getting things back on track

From the beginning it seems like it’s would only be a matter of time before the CHHS Trojans flexed their muscles. With a tough early schedule even head coach Carl Hollis was skeptical on how his young team would respond to the competition.

Now, the Trojans have rattled off two in a row, including one in their Area and could be the most dangerous 3-4 team around. One thing is for certain, they won’t wear out. If nothing else the CHHS boys are fit. Ask anyone who has gone through a practice under Hollis and they’ll tell you that the words "slow down" were omitted from his vocabulary long ago.

Coach Jones is still at the .500 mark with her Lady Trojan bunch. Their fast-paced pressing style has worked well against some and not so good against others. They are 1-0 in the Area, however, and that’s always a good thing.

Goshen has all the right tools

I saw the Eagles play for the first time Friday night and I was impressed. Not by their performance as much as their potential.

This is a group of gamers and they seem to have a fantastic nucleus that could gell for some big-time play at any time. They were ranked in the preseason polls and that’s no fluke. They fell out of the polls after dropping one to a good Clayton team on the road, but don’t count these guys out of anything.

At 3-1 overall they’ve gotten some very capable guard play (always key for any team) out of Willie Darby and some guys inside that can just bang down low. I was really impressed with Kendaris Pelton Friday night sinking some very clutch free throws and making the big plays whenever Goshen needed them most. And watch out folks, because after Christmas this team is only going to get better with the addition of a couple of players that will become academically eligible.

The Lady Eagles are 0-4 in the early going, but forward Kayla Ellis has been everything for them so far. If she gets it down on the block just about anyone will be hard pressed to stop here from banking it in for the deuce.

Pike County needs to keep that head up

After their three-point loss Friday the Bulldogs really weren’t to upset. It’s always tough, but not much brings a team together better than an all-out effort like they gave against the Eagles. These guys are all really young. They haven’t had a lot of experience, but trust me, after this year they will have plenty to spread around.

Coach Buehler has these guys pumped up about the season and they will play a lot of exciting games before it’s all over. Watching the game Friday was a treat and Shermondre Jackson will be a star if he continues to drop in clutch buckets down the stretch like he did against Goshen. Sam Diggs has played some quality minutes early for the Bulldogs and with a couple other players coming along like Tobias Johnson Buehler and his squad might not be hurting that bad.

The Lady Bulldogs are undefeated and look to have all the tools to compete with anyone. There are numerous players on this roster that can contribute and that always helps. They have some good diversity with size and quickness and a number of different looks they can throw at teams. Head coach Leroy Bryant is back in charge and that can only spell good things for the Lady Bulldogs.

Pike Lib makes the grade

Probably the most successful area team in the early going has been the Pike Liberal Arts varsity boys’ squad. They’re 8-1, ranked No. 7 in the AISA rankings and were able to pull off a 53-51 overtime win over Glenwood to improve to 2-0 in Region play. These guys are firing on all cylinders right now.

B.J. Powell is lighting it up from the outside and guys like Nick Paul and Justin Law are providing some power down low making their inside-outside game lethal to most who come across it.

And what about the Lady Patriots? They lost their second Region game of the season, but before that the PLAS girls were on a winning streak that almost matched their win total from the entire season last year! They picked up their first Region win in three years and are on track to have a break-out season.

Yep things are heating up on the hardwood and as the temperature continues to drop you can expect it to get hotter. Conference, Area and Region play is starting to crank up and that’s when things really get exciting.