Season stalls momentum for teams

Published 12:02 am Tuesday, December 22, 2009

NATCHEZ — With high schools closed for the Christmas holidays, prep basketball action looks to slow down considerably for the next few weeks.

Between players and fans wanting to spend time with the family, and boys looking to go hunting with their fathers, coaches have scheduled their practice times and games to accommodate the wishes of athletes and their parents.

Cathedral varsity boys head coach Peter Arnold said he constructs the holiday schedule to have just enough activity to keep his players fresh during the break.

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“We’re just playing in (the ACCS shoot out Dec. 28–29),” Arnold said. “We don’t play at home during the holidays at all. We usually just schedule one during the break, and that’s all we’ll play while we’re out of school.”

ACCS varsity girls head coach Melanie Hall said the shoot out, which will also host Huntington and WCCA, will be convenient for fans of all the schools involved.

“It’s great, because there’s not a lot of travel for any of the teams and their families,” Hall said.

A scheduled constructed like that give players a chance to clear their minds. Natchez varsity boys assistant coach David Haywood said his players need the time off for that reason.

“The kids deserve the time off,” Haywood said. “They’ll play in one tournament, then spend time with family for Christmas and New Year’s.

“At the end of the season, after a three-week break, they get right back into it again for all of summer and into fall, so it’s a good time for them to relax and get their minds off things.”

Arnold said the time off does hurt the team, though

“If anything, it’s a disadvantage,” he said. “I schedule a tournament just to keep a couple of games on the schedule to bridge the gap during the holidays. We can’t keep from playing too long; otherwise, it’ll get us out of rhythm.”

Practices for Cathedral have been scheduled around what days Christmas and New Year’s fall on.

“Since Christmas is on a Friday, we’ll practice Tuesday and Wednesday, and come back Sunday. Then, we’ll play at ACCS Monday and Tuesday. With New Year’s next Friday, we won’t practice New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day, but that following Sunday.”

Natchez, meanwhile, has made an adjustment to its holiday schedule. The planned game between the Bulldogs and Vidalia last Friday was rescheduled for today.

“When it finally happened that these two teams would be able to play each other again (after several seasons), everyone would have been disappointed if the game just got canceled,” Haywood said.

“If not for (tonight), we probably wouldn’t have been able to reschedule the game for the rest of the season.”

In addition to the Vidalia game, Natchez will also play in the Sunkist Shootout in LaFayette, La. Dec. 27–30.

Some might think it would be harder for players to get into a practice mood during the holidays, but Arnold said he thinks the opposite is true.

“Usually guys are excited during holiday practices,” Arnold said. “When we’re just having a couple a week, as opposed to daily practices, they’re usually more enthused about getting in there and jamming.”