Column: Local success should lead to exciting finish on the court

Published 3:00 am Thursday, January 4, 2018

The presents have all been unwrapped and the decorations have been put back in their boxes with the holiday season now behind us. With students returning to school, high school basketball returns for its final stretch run.

The 2017 session of the schedule provided some fans with a good start, others with inconsistent starts and even a late start as Goshen didn’t get their season going until December due to the success of the football team.

The two leaders in the clubhouse come as little or no surprise to many. The Charles Henderson Lady Trojans are continuing to prove that they are the county’s most successful team as they started the season 7-0 and find themselves ranked number one in Class 5A.

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Despite the late start, the Goshen boys are off to a 5-0 start under third-year head coach Ethan Carroll.

“They have all bought in,” Carroll said. “It’s pretty easy for a team after a long football season to be a little burned out. From the first time we were in there, the kids really worked hard. We need to shoot the ball better. We need to make sure we are doing the little things from boxing out and sprinting back on defense.”

Three boys teams in Pike County, Charles Henderson and Pike Liberal Arts have gotten off to mediocre head starts, but their coaches are confident in the teams making quick turnarounds.

Under Doug Holland, the Pike County Bulldogs have just two wins.

“The first half, I thought we played close,” Holland said. “I didn’t think we played as well as I thought we would. We have had so many games close and have had two overtime games.”

They have gotten strong performances from their front court. Andres Burney and Xavier Newson have given the Bulldogs an inside game they haven’t had in many years.

The Patriots came into the season having to replace sharp-shooting Hunter Jones, who graduated last spring. The Patriots entered the season knowing they had to create scoring opportunities by running up and down the floor, believing they didn’t have the shooters to compete on game-by-game basis.

The Patriots have done their fair share of running, but they have also found their shot as well. Reed Jinright, Javon Christian and Wood Jinright have given the Patriots depth at scoring.

“Our offensive output this year has been the biggest pleasant surprise for us,” said head coach Allen Ponder. “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.”

Charles Henderson is currently 7-6, but after a successful trip to San Destin, head coach Shelby Tuck is confident as we dive into 2018.

The Goshen Lady Eagles are 3-1 with their lone loss coming to Samson. The Eagles are once again getting production from Bree Griffin, but they have also gotten production from Jada Hall and Genelynn Lee.

The Pike County Lady Bulldogs have gotten off to an up-and-down start while the Lady Patriots are still trying to find their offense.

Every game has been building to the start of area play. Although the other games are important, area play is what matters the most. The Patriots will kick off area play today when they host Northside, while the rest of the teams will get underway in the next week.

The Lady Trojans and the Goshen boys are coming off area tournament championships, while the other teams are looking to cut down the nets.

With the season hitting the home stretch, there is sure to be a lot of excitement and intrigue.