Patriots ready for area play

Published 3:00 am Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The Pike Liberal Arts Patriots kick off the new year with the start of area play against Northside.

The Patriots have begun the season with a 5-4 record. With area play looming, head coach Allen Ponder is pleased with the start of his team.

“I am very pleased with the start that we have gotten off to,” Ponder said. “We played what I considered to be a tough schedule in the first half, which I think is good for us because it shows the areas we need to work on. I am very happy with the start we have gotten off to.”

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The Patriots have participated in two tournaments so far this season. They opened the season up in Auburn in the Lee-Scott Tournament and also played in the Abbeville Tournament.

Through the team’s first nine games, Ponder said he is most impressed with his team’s work ethic.

“Honestly, we have placed a lot more emphasis this year on getting off to a good start defensively,” Ponder said. “I think that has been a reason for our success. We placed the most emphasis on effort. Go out and give 100 percent and play as hard as you can possibly play for 32 minutes. We have done a good job of that. I feel like we have unbelievable effort in every single game. The effort for us has probably been the biggest standout.”

Another standout has been the offensive production by the Patriots. The Patriots have balance scoring up and down the roster. On any given night, the Patriots have had production by Reed Jinright, Wood Jinright, Javon Christian or Ethan Green.

“Our offensive output this year has been the biggest pleasant surprise for us,” Ponder said. “We thought we had to get out in transition and run to score a lot of points. How we have shot the basketball this year has been a pleasant surprise. We have had some guys step up and shoot the ball well. It hasn’t been just one guy – We have had a different leading scorer on several different occasions. That has been a huge surprise.”

The Patriots will open up 2018 with a home game against Northside on January 4. They will play the Knights again on January 11 in Dothan. The Patriots will take on their other area foe Lakeside on January 19 at home and January 23 in the regular season finale on the road.

“I don’t know a whole lot about Northside,” Ponder said. “I know they had a very good team last year. Lakeside is extremely athletic. They have some very good basketball players. They are very deep. It’s going to be a good challenge. I think our area is one of the better areas. It’s going to be some good competition and we are looking forward to it.”