Defending Region champs hit the floor

Published 3:00 am Saturday, June 4, 2016

After coming up one game short of a chance to play for a state title last season, the Charles Henderson Lady Trojans are back on the court to begin their 2016 summer season.

Under new guidelines by the Alabama High School Athletic Association teams are now allotted 21 days to practice and play games throughout the summer months. The Trojans will kick off their games on Monday when they travel to play three games against Poplar Springs before returning home to take on Northview.

“I’m just trying to get the girls a lot of experience,” said Trojans head Dyneshia Jones. “There are a lot of things we need to work on this summer, as well as fundamentals.”

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The Trojans fielded a very young basketball team during the 2015-16 season and that movement will continue heading into the fall and winter months. The Trojans, led by sophomore Maori Davenport and freshman Niaira Jones, will use this time to begin the process of gaining experience playing with one another.

“This helps a lot,” Jones said. “The more they can play together the better they will play. This is when the improvement starts, when you are supposed to get better. This is all about working out and giving it your all right now.”

The Trojans will also use the summer to hammer out the basics and to try and find out their identity without playmaker India Blakely who graduated in May.

“With India being gone we have to fill in that spot,” Jones said. “We are going to have to change the offense around a little bit. It’s all about implementing and trying new things. With all these days playing, if something doesn’t work you can get back in and try something else.”

In all the Lady Trojans will play in 20 games from June 6 until June 25, including four games to start the summer on Monday.

“They’re excited,” Jones said. “I told them they are going to get tired. They are going to go to bed and wake up ready to play another game. They are going to be tired, but they’re young.”

The Trojans will play the likes of Northview, Dothan and Smith Station. The Trojans will treat the games as close to a regular season game as possible.

“I have butterflies in my stomach right now and we don’t play until Monday,” Jones said. “If I could schedule games every day I would. We will be doing something all this week.”

Several members of the Lady Trojans will also participate in Elite Camps at both South Alabama and Florida State.

After coming up short last season, Jones plans to use their run at a state title as motivation for her young team.

“I told them that we have been there so there are no surprises,” Jones said. “We have to win. We have to do more than play in just that one game. In two of the past three years that is what we have done. We have gotten there and we lose. We have to do more than that. We can’t celebrate making it to state anymore. We have to win state.”

The Lady Trojans aren’t the only ones participating this summer. The Junior varsity and varsity boys will also be in action. The varsity boys under new head coach Shelby Tuck will also play their fair share of games starting on Monday following the conclusion on the JV boys game which begins at 3:30 p.m.

“We have had a good four days to practice,” Tuck said. “I am looking forward to the opportunity to get out there. We have a lot of new faces. It is going to give a lot of our guys the opportunity to play.”

Tuck who is taking over for long time head coach Carl Hollis, is excited to begin a new chapter in his coaching career.

“I feel really good going into it,” Tuck said. “This is almost preseason for me. We get to learn about guy’s in certain situations…It’s going to give us a great look.”