Progressing Vols ready for conference tourney
Starkville Academy's Adam Crittenden (center, with ball) has been a part of Starkville Academy's improved football and boys basketball squads. (Kim Murrell/SDN)
By DANNY P. SMITH
Adam Crittenden has witnessed the progress.
After being a part of a Starkville Academy football team that experienced more success than the year before, the same can be said when Crittenden moved on to the basketball squad.
The Volunteers only had one win to show for the 2009-10 hoops season, but have already won nine times this season.
"It feels a lot better than one win," Crittenden said. "We just worked hard at it and had a few people step up this year and help us out."
Crittenden is happy to be a part of the programs that are moving forward at SA and also expects to start playing baseball in a couple of weeks.
With some younger brothers following in his footsteps, Crittenden hopes positives things are being established that they can enjoy.
"I'm thinking like I'm doing this for them," Crittenden said. "I know they'll keep it going and the coaches will keep it going. This will be a good base for years to come."
The Vols (9-19) begin postseason play today when they take on Presbyterian Christian at Jackson Prep. Tipoff is set for 5:15 p.m.
Starkville Academy boys coach Chris Lyle likes the steps his players have taken this year and does believe the lessons learned will serve the program well in the future.
"We've got a good nucleus coming back and the kids have bought in," Lyle said. "They've played hard this year and that's always key. They realize now how hard they have to play. They are not taking any plays off whether it be offensively or defensively."
Lyle said the determination and look in the Vols' eyes told the story in practice one day with the way two players wrestled for a loose basketball.
In an elimination situation against PCS, Lyle expects his squad to be ready.
"Some teams this time of the year are ready for it to be over, but our guys are excited to play," Lyle said. "That's a huge difference and I hope the difference in the game.
"At this point and time of the year, you've got to roll up your sleeves and go with it. It's exciting for us as we get a chance to go play and extend our season by a week. I feel like we are hitting our stride right now. If we go out there (today) and play well, I think we have a good a chance."
Starkville Academy was scheduled to play Presbyterian Christian earlier in the season, but due to a conflict with football, the game was canceled.
Lyle has received a bit of a scouting report on PCS and has indications that it could be tough in the paint.
Presbyterian Christian has a rotation of up to five players at least 6-foot-4 and one that's 6-foot-6. It also has a quick point guard that reminds Lyle of his J.R. Gerhart.
"He's their engine and kind of makes them go," Lyle said.
Crittenden knows the challenge will be great against PCS, but doesn't expect the Vols to back down.
"We are going to give it all we have and do whatever it takes to win," Crittenden said.
vs. Jackson Prep
The Lady Vols have a roster with no seniors, but were still able to achieve 19 wins to this point of the season.
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Starkville Academy girls coach Glenn Schmidt said getting seven wins in the North AAA-Division I Conference with such a young squad was quite an accomplishment.
She has watched as the Lady Vols (19-13) have developed a confidence throughout the season.
"They are very comfortable with each other and the role they have on the team," Schmidt said. "The most pleasing thing about them is they are very coachable, very easy to coach and very team-oriented. They have pretty much learned that, at times, the defense doesn't give us what we want and we have to adjust and we're able to make adjustments."
A victory against a Jackson Prep team on the road when they play today (6:30 p.m.) can go a long way in adding to the growth of the SA girls.
"We've played Prep once and we've got a really good gameplan against them," Schmidt said. "Our youngsters have learned so much basketball throughout the season and it's a great opportunity to go out, pull everything together and try to win a ballgame."
Schmidt would like to get players like freshmen Sallie Kate Richardson and Nora Kathryn Carroll one or two more games tacked onto the season.
The Lady Vols have to win today in order to play more basketball.
"This is a tough league," Schmidt said. "We're going to give it our best shot and hope for the best. (Jackson Prep is) very beatable and have lost on their home court. It's not like David and Goliath. We're much improved and a respected team with everybody who plays against us."