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Pike Patriots ready to begin a new season

It seems like just yesterday that the Pike Liberal Arts boy’s basketball team competed in the Elite 8 at the Crampton Bowl. Now the Patriots get set to embark on their 2017-2018 season.

After the conclusion of the football season, many of players quickly transitioned and began preparing for what they hope is a successful basketball season.

“When you have athletes that play three sports and your coming off a hard loss like we had in football, they are usually ready to get their mind on a new sport,” said head coach Allen Ponder. “The turnaround has been quick, but we have been working hard. We are trying our best to get ready for that first game.”

The first game will be on Monday when they travel to Auburn to take part in the Lee-Scott Tournament.

“There isn’t really a winner or a loser in this tournament,” Ponder said. “It’s just a way to bring in a bunch of teams and get everybody started early. Everybody enjoys the format because you get two games in two days. It kind of gives you an opportunity to get your kids in the flow of things.”

The Patriots welcome in a good mix of veterans and new players to the roster.

“It’s always nice to have some returners because they have a better idea of what you are trying to accomplish,” Ponder said. “We still do a lot of the same drills so they are able to get the kids that haven’t been in the program acclimated.”

The Patriots were forced to say goodbye to one of their leading scorers in Hunter Jones after last season, but they are returning key players such as Reed and Wood Jinright, Ethan Green Cody Hollis and Max Copeland.

“We need big years out of all of our returners and older kids,” Ponder said. “We have some new ones coming in, but we really don’t want to expect because we haven’t seen them play yet. We are expecting big things out of them also.”

With the departure of Jones’ sharp shooting abilities, Ponder and the Patriots are going to change up the offense this season.

“The ways we are going to have to score this year are going to change,” Ponder said. “We relied a lot last year on Hunter Jones shooting the basketball. We are going to try and get the basketball up the court as fast as we can and work the ball inside.”

The Patriots will begin play in the tournament on Monday. They will have their home opener on November 28 against Autauga.