Rebuilt Pike Lib team looks for productive year

Published 11:00 pm Tuesday, November 19, 2013

No coach or team every wants to go in to a season and label it a rebuilding year, but Pike Liberal Arts is beginning one.

The Patriot basketball team returns just a handful of players from last year’s team, and will have a new coach walking the sideline of the hardwood.

Gene Allen, Pike varsity football coach, takes over for Craig Kennedy this season, and while Allen is well-known in the football world, he has quite a bit of experience as a hoops coach as well.

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“Growing up as kid, you play every sport you can,” Allen said. “I played them all, but basketball was always one I really enjoyed. I have coached quite a bit in the past, and coached the JV girls last season. It just all about the guys and myself gelling as fast as possible.”

Pike will be without the services of guards Rush Hixon and Marquese Christian this season.

Hixon is recovering from shoulder surgery, and Christian transferred.

“It always hurts to lose guys like Marquese and Rush,” Allen said. “They are both great ball handlers, and can run the point or play the two guard. We will have to find some guys to step up and fill that role.”

The Patriots do return one key piece of their squad, Chandler Avant.

Avant, a recent signee of the University of Alabama baseball team, can play any of the five positions on the floor, and is at home out on the perimeter and down on the low block.

“Chan is a general out there,” Allen said. “He takes charge, and makes sure everyone is where they need to be. He can handle the ball up top, or bang down low. He has no fear driving to the basket, and getting fouled.”

Pike won its first game of the season last Saturday, 62-45 over Ashford Academy.