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By DANNY P. SMITH
It will be a new experience beginning Monday as Mark Alexander coaches his first game with the Starkville Academy Volunteers boys basketball team.
There's one thing that won't be new to him â€“ the competition.
The last team Alexander faced as the boys coach at Manchester Academy was Marshall and the first opponent he'll see with the Vols will be Marshall.
"They beat us for the 2A North State championship at Kirk last year," Alexander said. "Marshall is a really good team and will be quality competition. They won the Class 2A championship last year and have three starters coming back. Their coach (Craig) Dailey has 900 wins. It won't be a cupcake that's for sure and will give us a good idea where we are."
The Vols open the Alexander era in the final game of the first day at the Heritage Academy Tournament. The SA junior high girls begin the action against Marshall at 4 p.m., then the varsity girls, junior high boys and varsity boys follow.
Alexander is anxious to see how the Vols perform in a game.
"The guys have been practicing and have been hard at it since school started," Alexander said. "By now, we are probably getting tired of each other and want to play against somebody else to see what happens.
"It will be different, but I think part of the excitement is the unknown. We can't wait to see what happens."
Monday will be the only day the SA boys play at the Heritage Tournament. On Tuesday, the junior high girls play Immanuel at 4 p.m. and the varsity girls take the court at 5:15 p.m. Hebron Christian will be the competition on Thursday for the junior high and varsity girls at the same times.
Even though the Lady Vols have all of their team back from last season, there are some new additions.
SA girls coach Glenn Schmidt said the Heritage Tournament gives the Vols and Lady Vols an opportunity to get their feet wet.
"It's a really good chance for us to play some," Schmidt said. "We've been practicing a long time and everyone is ready to see some action.
"Although our boys will be playing without our football players (because of the playoffs), it will be a good chance for them to play for one day and get a look at themselves, but we're real excited to be playing."