PLAS basketball improving with unique practices

Published 9:39 pm Friday, January 11, 2013

The Pike Liberal Patriots are dead set on getting better and building a winning basketball program. The players have bought in to the coaching philosophy of Coach Craig Kennedy, and are making strides to improve.

The Patriot girls are ranked ninth in the state, and showed that they belonged in the spot after playing highly ranked Evangel Christian Academy close for three quarters. While unranked, the Patriot boys are beginning to roll and can knock off any team they face on any given night.

One of the main reasons, in Kennedy’s eyes, for the surge in results is due to an unusual practice method. From time to time the Patriot girls will mix it up and scrimmage the boys.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The first-year head coach says it makes both teams focus different aspects of the game.

“The girls get to be more physical, and get tough against the boys,” said Kennedy. “The boys, on the other hand, have to play with the minds more. They can’t be as physical because they can’t run over the girls. It helps out all parties.”

The two teams get a lot of production from opposite ends of the offense. The Patriot girls, while routinely getting good guard play from Katie Ward, Ellie Barron and Sara Saunders, like to get the ball to the low post.

Post players Carrley Barron, Kori Chirco and Megan Johnson have become more physical and make better decisions since beginning their scrimmages with the boys.

“We have come so far down low since the start of the season,” said Kennedy. “They are starting to make good decisions, better and faster. They are realizing what I have known all along, that they can dominate the post if they play hard.”

The boys, armed with shooters Rush Hixon, Chandler Avant and Marquese Christian, do a lot of their damage from the perimeter. Russ Thomas and Brian Adams handle the post positions.

“We have some good shooters, and good bigs,” said Kennedy. “Sometimes our decisions kind of throw me for a loop. We have to use our head more, when playing the girls, and think things through. It is a hard concept to grasp, but when it clicks, it’s wide open.”

Kennedy said the two teams aren’t the most talented teams he has seen is his career, but spoke highly of their effort and attitudes.

“These kids come to practice every day to work hard and get better,” Kennedy said. “Their attitudes are great, and they are some of the best kids I have ever been around.”

The Patriots travel to Luverne on Jan. 14 to battle rival Crenshaw Christian Academy. Tip off is set for 4 p.m.