Goshen hopes for strong basketball season

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Goshen Eagle basketball team is looking to make the step from competitive to contender in head coach Johnny Mitchell’s second year.

Last year, the Eagles struggled in a rebuilding year, finishing fourth in their area behind Elba, New Brockton and Zion Chapel.

Goshen’s season ended last year in the area tournament when they dropped an opening round game 62-42 to Elba.

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Mitchell said he hopes last year’s experience will help the Eagles this season. “We have some seniors that have played around, have been around the game, have been with me for a year and are experienced,” Mitchell said. “We expect them to have a good chance to win a bunch of games and be a playoff team.”

Before the Eagles can get rolling, though, Mitchell said his team needs to get in to the basketball mindset. “You have got to go through those few weeks when you’re getting out of football mode and getting in to basketball mode,” Mitchell said. “I don’t think that we had two guys on our B-team or varsity team who didn’t play football also. It takes a little time to get the basketball feel.”

Goshen will rely heavily on football star Deangelo Orum to lead the Eagles on the hard court as well. At the end of last season, coach Mitchell said he believed that Orum could turn in to a special player before his time at Goshen was done.

If Goshen wants to advance to the state tournament since 2001, they will have to upend Area-favorite Elba. Mitchell thinks his team can do it. “We lost to Elba by four at home last year,” Mitchell said. “We led them at halftime in Elba. We just had a terrible shooting half. We think we can play with them, and, better yet, they think we can play with them. They were a last second shot from playing in the state championship game last season.”

Mitchell said the two team’s rivalry may help the Eagles this year. “It’s going to be difficult to knock Elba off, but, sometimes, familiarity is a benefit in that situation,” Mitchell said. “Hopefully, us knowing them will help us a little bit. It might be the biggest step we have to take at Goshen—getting it in our mind that we can compete with the best and understanding how close we are to achieving that. That’s the big step—going from being competitive to winning those games.”

If there is ever an opportunity for the Eagles to advance to the state tournament, it is now. Traditional 2A power Barbour County has moved up to 3A, and the Eagles compete in one of the weaker regions in 2A basketball.

Lanett, Mars Hill, Tanner, Sand Rock, R.C. Hatch and Barbour County have traditionally dominated 2A basketball. This year, the Eagles would not have to face any of these powers until the Final Four.

This year, Goshen can expect to see teams like Washington County, Mobile Christian, Leroy and Wicksburg in the regional tournament, provided that the Eagles can advance past the area tournament for the first time since 2006.

The Eagles will have the opportunity to test themselves early in the season when they host Geneva County on Saturday. The Bulldogs lost in the sub-regional last year to 1A runner-up Brantley.