Next chapter: Patriots excited to begin region play

Published 3:00 am Thursday, January 5, 2017

After playing 12 games, the Pike Liberal Arts Patriots are still looking for an identity as the schedule shifts to region play this evening.

The Patriots have started the season 4-8 with the most important part of their schedule still ahead.

“Our team is still a question mark at this point,” said Patriots head basketball coach Allen Ponder. “We had an extremely hard schedule to start the season. I feel like a lot will be told over the upcoming games.”

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The Patriots have already participated in two tournaments at Macon East and Lee-Scott and have played the likes of Autauga and Lee Scott and it’s still yet to be seen if the Patriots can benefit from the tough early schedule.

“I told our team that it can go one of two ways,” Ponder said. “We can be better from playing that type of schedule or that type of schedule can kill your confidence. We are going to find out what kind of team that we are.”

The Patriots have had some positives in the early portion of the schedule. Whether their outside shooting or their defense, the Patriots have reason to be optimistic heading into January. One of the biggest areas of excitement for Ponder and the Patriots is the success from the new players on the teams like Reece Burbage.

“We showed signs in the first half,” Ponder said. “The thing about us is that we couldn’t put everything together. We had some areas where we played well, but on the other side we didn’t play very well. For us, we need to put together a complete game.

“We have some new guys that are understanding the importance of team chemistry. We have had a good couple of days of practice. I think they are starting to understand if all five play together then we have the potential to be a pretty good basketball team.”

Hunter Jones and Reece Burbage have offered the ammunition for the Patriots from the outside this season, but it’s been the play of the guys inside such as Patrick O Brian, and Ethan Green that have sparked the interest of coach Ponder.

“I have been proud of our play down in the post,” Ponder said. “I think we have done a very good job this year finishing on the block.”

Beginning with tonight’s game, the Patriots will embark on area play. With area play comes competitive games with both Northside and Lakeside.

“It’s not going to be easy,” Ponder said. “Northside is always going to have a good team and well coached along with Lakeside. I feel like we matchup well with both teams. I think it’s going to come down to the team that shows up and wants it more on that night…I think we are ready for area play and I think we are ready for the competition.”

The Patriots tip things off with Northside this evening at approximately 7:30 p.m. in Dothan.