Youthful Green Wave continue to improve

Published 12:30 am Monday, January 18, 2010

NATCHEZ — Two years ago, a senior-laden Cathedral Green Wave won 26 games and advanced to the South State Tournament for the first time in recent memory.

But with the entire starting five plus a couple of bench players graduating after that season, winning got a lot more difficult for the Green Wave.

Playing with eight freshmen, Cathedral struggled to just six wins last season.

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However, those freshmen are now sophomores and coach Peter Arnold is slowly building the Green Wave back to the level they enjoyed a couple of years ago.

Cathedral (7-7, 2-2 Region 7-1A) has already won more games than it did a year ago and is position to finish in the top three of the district.

Cathedral is coming off a 70-52 victory over St. Aloysius that evened its district record, and now has two tough district games on the road this week, Sebastopol on Tuesday and West Lincoln on Friday.

“If we can get in there and sneak a win out of either, it will be a huge boost for us,” Arnold said. “But even if we don’t, everyone else in our district we have a good shot at beating.”

But while Cathedral is improving, they are still young and that still leads to young mistakes that has cost the Green Wave victories this season.

“Our inexperience hurts us in that we just haven’t developed patience on offense,” Arnold said. “We’ve had a couple of games where we had eight point leads in the third quarter and then rushed some possessions on offense, took bad shots or turned it over and the other team got on a run. And in the end, we lost both of those games.”

The most disheartening loss was a 58-51 district loss to Bogue Chitto last week, in which Cathedral had an eight-point lead with two minutes remaining in the third quarter.

“When you’re up eight late in the third, you feel you’ve got a solid chance to win the game,” Arnold said. “We’re still underachieving in some ways. We’re at .500 overall and in the district and I feel like we’re capable of being better than that.”

But if Cathedral fans or players are getting discouraged with the team’s youthful mistakes this season, they need only to look back a couple of seasons to see what they are building towards.

“We had a really outstanding group a couple of years ago,” Arnold said. “The first year I coached the boys, they were freshmen and we built our way up there. They all graduated and it was just unusual that we didn’t have any upperclassmen. We basically started over.”

While there are similarities between the two groups, Arnold said there is one key difference. This group of young players might be even better.

“I really feel like the sophomore group this year is more talented overall than the group I had that won 26 games, at least at this stage of their careers,” Arnold said.

And for Cathedral fans, that might make the struggles the past two years worthwhile.

“If we keep working, we’ll get better each year, and when this group is seniors, we should have an outstanding team,” Arnold said. “And from there, we may have to start all over again, but that’s life at a small school.”