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Bulldogs open season at No. 1 Barbour County

Sports Editor

The Pike County boy’s basketball team will open the 2001-02 season tonight on the road in the annual Barbour County High School Christmas Tournament.

The Bulldogs travel to Clayton where they will participate in the four-team tournament, which includes Bullock County and Charles Henderson as well as the host defending 2A champion Barbour County Jaguars.

And it’s the Jags, winners of 17 straight games dating back to last year, Pike County will have to face first.

"It’s definitely going to be a challenge," said Pike County head coach Danny Suber about tonight’s match-up. "It’s almost like jumping right into a fire. The biggest concern for me, though, isn’t that they’ve won 17 straight, it’s that they’ve played about eight or nine games this year and we’ve played exactly zero. But we’ll be there. We’ll show up."

Suber takes over for the departed David Buehler, who now coaches at Robertsdale High School.

However, the first-year head coach is dealing with some of the same problems that Buehler faced last year.

The Bulldogs’ football team advanced to the semifinal round of the state playoffs this year after advancing to the quarterfinals a year ago.

In both cases, the football squad’s good fortune forced basketball season to be pushed back almost four weeks. As a result, almost all the other school systems in south Alabama have got a big jump on Suber and his team.

Suber, who coached the PCHS B-team last year, admits a number of his players, especially those who played football, are still getting used to running the court.

"We’re still blocking and tackling," he said. "We’ve gotten a little better over the last six days, but I expect us to be physical early on. I feel good about our conditioning, but what I tell people all the time is that it’s a whole lot different between working on a soft football field and then coming in to play on a hard surface like a basketball court. It takes some getting used to. I still don’t know if I have a group of players that can run 32 minutes hard."

On Monday, Suber was still uncertain as to who would be in the Bulldogs’ starting lineup tonight against Barbour County.

"There’s too many uncertainties right now," he said. "I know that Nick Walker and Reggie Griffin will probably start, but as for the others I’ll have to wait and see who stands out in practice."

Walker and Griffin started at one point in time last season for the Bulldogs.

Charles Henderson will play Bullock County in the first game of the tournament, which starts at 6 p.m. Barbour County and the Bulldogs will play at 7:45 p.m.