AC clubs face tough task at CPS today

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 9, 2004

If you’re thinking Central Private boys and Brookhaven Academy boys and getting a bad case of dj vu, you’re way behind Adams Christian head coach John Gray.

He’s been like that all season, and this comes from a man who spent several years at Brookhaven Academy in that stellar basketball program. But now he’s with the Rebels, and looking at Central Private to prepare for tonight’s 2-AAA game at Central, La., gives him a chance to really compare the two.

The Rebels and Lady Rebels play tonight at CPS as prep basketball gets back in full swing in the Miss-Lou following the holiday break.

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&uot;They’re just alike &045; they’re identical,&uot; said Gray, whose club enters the contest 1-1 in district. &uot;They’re going to pressure you and run the floor with the ball. I’m just impressed at how quick they run down the floor with the ball. I feel like we’ve got two or three like that, but they’ve got seven or eight of them. We’ve got our hands full.&uot;

What also has Gray feeling a bit reluctant is the comparison of each squad’s weekend. His AC Rebels have just one game under their belts since the holiday break when they pounded Centreville team Friday at the WCCA New Year’s Shootout, 52-33.

Although they were impressive in that contest in the first game back, Central Private’s Rebels had a much tougher task. Head coach Jason Norris’ Rebels advanced to the finals of the Brookhaven Academy Holiday Classic before losing to the Cougars, 74-59.

Identical? The contest, Gray said, was tight until about midway through the fourth quarter.

&uot;Central Private got to play three games that week, and we got to play one,&uot; Gray said. &uot;I feel that will hurt us. They had to play some real tough teams in Brookhaven and without No. 21 (Josh Wall). He’s their best player. If we can get back on defense quick enough, make them earn their shots and rebound with them, I think it’ll be a pretty good ball game.&uot;

That would be the best thing Adams Christian can do today against CPS &045; eliminate the turnovers and force Central Private into a half-court game since it has size to matchup underneath.

But it’s the first of two big games for Adams Christian this week as it tries to gain ground in the district race. If today’s game is big, Friday’s game against Hillcrest Christian at home is even bigger.

The Cougars are the defending Overall state champ. They don’t have MPSA Player of the Year Walker Moeller, but others have transferred in to continue the tradition of success.

&uot;This is going to be two big ones in our district,&uot; Gray said. &uot;They’ll be the top one or two &045; I don’t know how they’d wind up. I know they’ll be the best in our conference. All I want our kids to do is play hard. But I think we’ll be better prepared for Hillcrest. Hillcrest doesn’t get the ball out as fast as Central Private.&uot;

The Adams Christian girls also have a tough task ahead with Central Private’s Lady Rebels, a team that is expected to contend for the district title after advancing to the Overall tournament last season.

But AC likes it chances of success, too, and are hoping to wedge themselves somewhere among the elite teams in the district with Central Private, Parklane, Jackson Prep and Copiah.

&uot;I feel that way, and I hope they do,&uot; Adams Christian head coach Bruce Pickle said. &uot;We’ve played people tough in past games. We just haven’t been able to pull them out. We’ve got to win some big games. We’ve going to have to win games some people think we can’t win.&uot;

Tonight’s game is ample opportunity to do so, although playing down at Central is better said than done. But Adams Christian played Central Private tough in spurts back in November during the Cellular South Miss-Lou Shootout before Central Private muscled out a 59-43 win.

This time Pickle may go with four guards to counter Central Private’s pressure.

&uot;I think they’re fairly confident they can put it together for a whole game,&uot; Pickle said. &uot;To me, it’s going to be a matter of how well we shoot the basketball. I think we’ll get our shots. We’ll have to buckle down. They’ll probably press us the whole game, which we should be ready for.&uot;

Wilkinson County’s Wildcats, meanwhile, get a chance to avenge their only loss in Division 7-3A when they host Port Gibson tonight. The Lady Blue Waves took a 57-44 win over Wilkinson County back on Dec. 12.

It’s the first game back from the holidays for the Lady Wildcats (10-5, 3-1) following a win and loss at the JPS tournament right after Christmas.

&uot;They’re confident,&uot; WC head coach Edwin White said. &uot;We did a lot of running and conditioning over the break. It’s mainly mental things &045; how much is your drive to win and be on top. They’re basically coaching themselves because they know the game. They know the game better than I do &045; they really do. They’ve played at least three years together and know what each other can do.&uot;

Much to their chagrin, the Lady Wildcats found out what they couldn’t do in their first meeting with the Blue Waves in the loss. Port Gibson played a tough defensive game and forced Wilkinson County to have an off shooting night while keeping it at a up-tempo pace.

&uot;We’ve worked on some things we didn’t do well the first time,&uot; White said. &uot;We missed a whole lot of shots. We shot free throws poorly, and that ultimately cost us the game. I think we’re more focused and more determined this game.&uot;

Both Monterey clubs open District 3-B action tonight when they host district newcomer Sicily Island. The Lady Wolves enter the league playing well with an 11-5 record following Friday’s road win over Cathedral.

&uot;I feel like we’ve been playing pretty well here lately,&uot; Monterey head coach Cary Shively said. &uot;The last three or four games we’ve done a pretty good job. We play a lot of people, and everybody has been pretty much stepping up and taking care of their job.&uot;