Bulldogs head from the football field to the basketball court
Published 9:39 am Tuesday, November 22, 2022
The Pike County Bulldogs boy’s basketball team will get the season started next week and will have to do it after a quick turnaround from football.
This week is the Bulldogs’ first week of official practices due to the football team advancing into the third round of the playoffs. Most basketball teams are able to practice during the fall – at least a bit – but the Bulldogs feature a team of almost entirely football players.
“I was always respectful of football and when kids start football we don’t bother them with basketball anymore, but I’ve never been in a place where so many kids played football,” PCHS coach Janasky Fleming said. “Usually I would have four or five that played football, so you could get practices rolling and everything, but we have about 90 percent that are going to go straight from football to basketball.
“The great thing about it is all these kids are leaders already and they have a unified mindset when it comes to athletics. You can tell at practices and games these kids are different and you can tell these kids have grown up together, too.”
Fleming was hired back in June, which meant he didn’t get to handle summer workouts with the basketball team either. Fleming coached at Northview and Dothan High from 2009 until this past season, and he recalls seeing some of the current Bulldogs playing on the 2020 Pike County State Championship team.
“The first year we were the (Class 7A) Dothan Wolves we played Pike County – the year that they won the state championship – and Dothan only won that game by one point,” Fleming recalled. “I remember thinking, ‘Pike County is going to beat up on some people.’ From that team, Ian (Foster) and Markelis Hobdy played and I remember seeing them in that game.”
Foster – who started his career at PCHS – is returning after being a part of last season’s AISA State Championship team at Pike Liberal Arts. Fleming said he will lean on the athleticism of his team early on in the season because of the short turnaround from football to basketball.
“You can see the athleticism and I think we’ll lean on our guard play,” he said. “The kids that come back from last year – and several kids that have come back to Brundidge – I can see just from football we have some quick and athletic kids.
“From watching film from last year, we’ll be a team that tries to turn defense into offense as much as we can. I’m not going to try and bring 28 years worth of basketball plays to kids that will play in a week.”
Fleming wants his Bulldogs to gel together as quickly as possible to be able to host the area tournament at the end of the season.
“We want to win that first area game and stack those on top of each other,” he said. “A great goal for us is to be able to host the area tournament. That’s a goal I think we should focus on first, because if you start there some of the other things (you want) will come with that. You want to win them all but you have to make sure to win the area and be able to host.”
Pike County’s season gets underway on Nov. 29 at Cottonwood before the Bulldogs host their first home game on Dec. 2 against the always-athletic Barbour County.