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Trinity, ACCS girls both trying to gain experience

Adams County Chritsian School’s Jordan Petty, center, and Trinity Episcopal’s Gabby Knight, left, and Murphy Aldridge fight for the rebound Friday night. (Ben Hillyer \ The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — Friday night’s matchup between the Trinity Episcopal Day School and Adams County Christian School girls was a youth movement of sorts.

Both teams have fielded younger squads this season. In Friday’s game, ACCS (9-13, 1-1) started a senior, a junior, two sophomores and a freshman. Trinity, meanwhile, started a senior, two juniors, a sophomore and a freshman, but one of those juniors, Shyvonia Manuel, is playing basketball for the first time this season.

ACCS girls head coach Melanie Hall said age isn’t the only factor in assessing a team’s youth. Overall experience, or even positional experience, also has to be factored in.

“(Center) Nikki (Worthey) is playing in her spot with a bummed up knee, and Tori (Laird) has gone to the point and is trying to get used to it,” Hall said. “Experience-wise, it’s a pretty young squad.”

Trinity girls head coach Chuck Bauerle came on the scene in late October after Mark Jackson stepped down as girls head coach. After inheriting what was already a young team, Bauerle said the sudden coaching change didn’t help matters.

“We missed six weeks of putting in some of our stuff,” Bauerle said. “It’s not that they aren’t hustling, playing hard or learning, but when you’ve had one on the team that’s never played before that’s a junior, there’s a learning curve and not a lot of time.”

Though he insisted he wasn’t making excuses, Bauerle said the odds have definitely been stacked against the Lady Saints (0-17, 0-2) this season.

“It’s like having someone in the third grade — not from an intelligence standpoint, but from a basketball IQ standpoint,” Bauerle said.

“You’re working on stuff like catching the ball and moving to an open spot. When you get players who already know that, you still work on it, but you take it another step and say, ‘Let’s work on this offense.’”

Hall said the new MAIS rules concerning junior varsity players playing in varsity games has helped matters in light of her squad’s injuries. Junior varsity players are allowed to play six quarters a night between junior varsity and varsity games no matter the size of the squad. Last season, MAIS only allowed that if the varsity team had less than eight players.

“It was a blessing that MAIS changed the rules,” Hall said.

Despite Trinity taking its lumps at the varsity level, Bauerle said his junior varsity squad has a lot of potential. So far, he’s resisted the temptation to move some of his girls up to varsity permanently.

“It would decimate the JV team,” Bauerle said. “They would have no success at all, and if I moved them up, it still wouldn’t mean I’d win district. If there were one or two that would put me over the hump, I’d do it, but that’s not the case.”

Hall said she enjoys coaching younger players, even if it they initially struggle in varsity games.

“You’ve got only one way to go, and that’s up,” Hall said. “To watch them where they start and be a part of the process of where they end up, it’s pretty incredible.”

 

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