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Area teams do what they can during break

NATCHEZ — Winter break is often a lull time for local basketball teams, as games are more spread out and athletes are less available for practice time.

Adams County Christian School girls basketball coach Melanie Hall said most area teams try to play in holiday tournaments during winter break to stay fresh. It isn’t always easy getting the players to make it to games.

“A lot of places have holiday tournaments to get games in, but juggling that with family time, that’s tough,” Hall said. “Everyone needs family time. That’s the most important thing.”

Cathedral boys basketball coach Peter Arnold said with so few practice opportunities, playing games are all the more important.

“The focus and intent of a game, and the amount of energy in a game, is so much more than what you have in practice,” Arnold said. “If you can get a game in here or there during the holidays, it’s worth three practices.”

While he would prefer to have all of his players throughout the holidays, Arnold said he understands that family comes first. When the Cathedral boys played in the championship game of the Enterprise High School Tournament Saturday evening, the Green Wave played shorthanded because of that.

“There are three guys missing today,” Arnold said Saturday. “But you can’t hold out against a kid. If they’re going out of town, they’re going out of town.”

Natchez High School girls basketball coach Alphaka Moore said the lack of games over the break gives her team a good opportunity to review things.

“We adjust to everyone we play and what kind of offense or defense they run, so we go over things we haven’t yet (been able to) during the season, or we’ll work on mistakes we’ve been making,” Moore said.

Hall said the down time during the holidays is also good for any players that might be banged up.

“If you have injuries or illnesses, it gives your team the opportunity to hopefully heal up and get well,” Hall said.

Moore said the holiday tournaments are also good for her players as they prepare for conference play.

“We get to see competition that we wouldn’t normally see,” Moore said. “It gets us ready for teams later on down the road, like what we’ll see when we get to district.”

Soccer is a sport hit especially hard by the holidays. Cathedral boys soccer coach Dennis Hogue said basketball can probably have a decent practice with just five, since that’s all they need for a game. But with soccer requiring 11 men on the field, not having at least 11 players severely hampers what little practice time they are able to get in.

“If only 6 show, our practices aren’t really that productive,” Hogue said. “The only thing we can say is they’re getting touches and kicking the ball.”

And with family obligations and travel during the holidays, Hogue said it’s hard enough getting players to show up at all.

“You call practice, and you keep your fingers crossed,” Hogue said. “You hope to get a majority of them to show up. Maybe you don’t. You just don’t know.

“It’s frustrating from a coach’s standpoint, but this is family time with the holidays, so you can’t punish kids for not showing up.”