Teams rushing to kick off rust
By JORDAN ANDERS
The Daily Reflector
Tuesday, January 9, 2018
After a snow-blanketed week that saw two of his team’s games rescheduled due to school closures, South Central girls’ basketball coach Robert Duck got some welcome news Tuesday morning.
Though Pitt County Schools were still closed to students, teams across the county were allowed to return to the practice court after a week away. That meant Duck and his league-leading Falcons (11-2, 3-0 Eastern Carolina 3-A/4-A Conference) were able to begin kicking off the rust before diving right back into action with a trip tonight to New Bern.
When the Falcons hit the floor to tangle with the Bears, it will have been 19 days since they last played, falling to Green Hope in the finals of the Pitt County Holiday Tournament. The combination of the New Year holiday and the winter weather of the last week had Duck clamoring to get back on the court.
“It felt like Christmas morning this morning when I found out we could practice,” Duck said Tuesday night. “My girls were excited, and we had some text messages going back and forth and were excited to see each other. It was kind of hard to get everybody focused right there at the beginning, but once they got locked in, they did some good things.”
The sluggish start was perhaps to be expected given the long layoff, but the Falcons and other teams in the county will now have to dive into a slightly more condensed January schedule to account for the games they missed. Tonight’s trip to New Bern is a makeup of a game that was to have been played last Friday, and last Wednesday’s scheduled game at Greene Central is now Jan. 31.
Duck’s squad also plays C.B. Aycock on Friday, making tonight’s the first of two games in three days.
“We’re excited to get back on the court,” he said. “We want to be playing basketball this time of the year. We’re tired of beating up on each other at practice. We want to get a fresh opponent to attack, and we embrace the challenge. We’re ready to get this thing going.”
Not everyone in the county has had quite the long stretch in between games. In fact, South Central and D.H. Conley are the only schools that have yet to play a basketball game in 2018.
Before practicing Tuesday, Ayden-Grifton’s boys had not been back on the court since a tight contest against Kinston slipped away at home seven nights earlier.
With a squad that features just four seniors — only one of whom is a starter — coach John-Kyle Moye admitted to having some questions as to how his young team would deal with getting such an extended break immediately following such a sour defeat.
“The fact we had not been able to practice since that loss kind of affected me a little bit more because we are so young and consistency is a key for us,” Moye said. “Days off can lead to some wandering minds or some forgetfulness and lack of focus.
“I think they were just excited about being out here and being out of the house in general, so maybe that’ll work to our advantage that they actually get to do something other than sit at the house.”
The Chargers (6-5, 2-1 Eastern Carolina 2-A Conference) play tonight at North Lenoir on what was supposed to be an off night. They are making up a game that was snowed out Friday, while their game that was postponed Tuesday night against West Craven will be made up next Tuesday.
As with South Central’s girls, Moye said his guys showed a fair amount of rustiness in their first practice back, but he also said how the layoff affects his team is largely up to the players themselves.
“It can be bad, or it can be a restart for us in 2018,” he said. “Maybe it can be a restart for us that we can get things back going. This five days off and a fresh start may give us the refocus that we may have needed to get our minds set back on what our goal is, which is trying to win the conference.”
Three sets of basketball games scheduled for Tuesday night had to be postponed and have all been rescheduled.
D.H. Conley's home games against New Bern were moved to Thursday, giving the Vikings games on consecutive days following tonight's matchup with J.H. Rose.
North Pitt's home matchups with SouthWest Edgecombe, which have been postponed three times, are now scheduled to be played Monday, and Ayden-Grifton's scheduled trip to West Craven was pushed back a week to Tuesday, Jan. 16.
The changes in exam schedules for Pitt County Schools also prompted South Central’s second meeting with J.H. Rose, originally scheduled for Jan. 22, to be altered. Those games will now be played at South Central on Jan. 16.
Contact Jordan Anders at email@example.com, 252-329-9594 and follow @ReflectorJordan on Twitter.