Pike County sophomore helps team to early success

Published 10:13 pm Monday, December 17, 2012

To get consistent play from a sophomore is a bonus for any basketball coach. To have a sophomore playing consistently with as much upside as Pike County’s Stevie Smiley has been a great treat for Bulldogs head coach Doug Branson.

Pike County upset area-foe Abbeville on Friday thanks, in part, to Smiley’s 19 points.

“It helped build up our confidence. It showed up that when we play hard, we can beat good teams,” Smiley said.

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Smiley has recorded double digit points for the Bulldogs several times this season and in both of the last two games.

“He’s a players withe tremendous upside,” Branson said. “He’s beginning to understand that at the varsity level, you can’t take plays off.”

Branson said that like most bigger underclassmen, Smiley is going through a tough period of transition. At 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, Smiley outsized most junior varsity or B-team opponents. Now as a member of the Pike County varsity team, who is currently 5-6 overall and 1-0 in area play, Smiley is learning to play more fundamental basketball instead of relying solely on his size.

“I just do what coach tells me to do,” Smiley said. “He puts us in good positions, so I just do what he says.”

Smiley said that the weight program that athletic director Fred Holland has helped tremendously.

“We’re getting stronger everyday,” said Smiley. “ It helps when I’m playing against somebody older than me. I can play with them better than before.”

The Class 3A Bulldogs may not be a state championship contender just yet, but Smiley feels the team will get better as time go on.

“I think we’re getting better everyday,” he said. “We have more confidence and are playing better every game.”

Pike County plays Carroll in Ozark on Wednesday followed by a home match with Ariton on Thursday.