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Tigers setting the bar high in 2008

The Straughn Tigers varsity basketball team hopes to use its hard work ethic again this year as they begin a new season.

The Tigers made it to the regional tournament last season at Troy and also had two 10-game winning streaks in the season.

Head coach Todd Reynolds said he is optimistic this year, despite losing six seniors.

“I’ve got a lot coming back and if they play at the level I think they’re capable of, we could be just as good if not better than last year,” Reynolds said. “But, it will depend on the players. Their safety net is gone and those seniors were nice to have and even the ones that didn’t start, it was nice to know that they were coming off the bench. We’ve got guys when they were used to that safety net now, they are the new safety net.”

Junior shooting guard C.J. Christopher, senior middle anchor Jakim Felton and senior forward Garrett Powell, according to Reynolds, have the potential of becoming starters this year.

In order to be successful, Reynolds said the team has to keep working hard.

“They’re going to have to maintain the same work ethic we created last year,” he said. “It was our work ethic that basically wore people down. They’re going to have to understand that this style of play that we do is hard, but the results speak for themselves. If you get them to buy into the hard work aspect, then, usually wins will follow.”

Reynolds said he has set the bar high for the team this season.

“I always have goals to make the playoffs,” Reynolds said. “I don’t care if I’m carting out three fish and a bucket, I plan on making it to the postseason. The simple goal is you want to be a little bit better than you were the year before. Where does that put us?

“You’re looking at a B team that can’t lose a game now and a varsity team that has to make it to the final four if you use that simple philosophy of being a little bit better than you were last year,” he said. “So, we have set a high bar for ourselves, which I like. You set the bar high and then strive toward meeting it.”

On the season overall, Reynolds said he is fully aware of who he is going up against.

“We’re in a really tough area,” he said. “You’ve got basically four playoff teams in one area. Two of them are not going, regardless of how good they are. You could have two teams that won 20 games each not make the playoffs, which is kind of a crock, but that’s how they fall sometimes.

“And then you’ll look over at somewhere else and someone can be below .500 and cruise into the playoffs. That adversity makes you stronger.”

Other potential games that will give Straughn a good contest according to Reynolds are Greenville, Georgiana, Dale County and New Brockton.

“Those are the games that are going to help us get better in preparation for the area and of course, you don’t look past anybody,” Reynolds said. “You can say we’re having a rebuilding year, but I don’t classify it as that. Programs don’t rebuild, they just continue to go. You just plug in new personnel into the holes that are vacated by seniors and keep moving. I see this as a reload year. If certain players play the potential I know they can play, we’ll be just as dangerous if not more.”

Reynolds said this year he will be placing more of an emphasis on coaching than teaching the basics.

“My job is going to be hard, but not as hard to the fact that the players have a year under their belt,” he said. “I don’t have to spend as much time teaching as I will coaching.”

Reynolds said he has more depth this year than last year.

“I’m gong to have four seniors, six juniors and two sophomores here potentially, so from a depth aspect, I will probably have more depth this year than I did last year,” Reynolds said. “That was the upside part that I was talking about. I’ve got one or two that are going to play for me this year that didn’t play for me last year. I will be a lot deeper than I was last year.”

Reynolds added that he hopes this season will progress on a winning level plane for the team.

“I appreciate the fans that came out last year and we hope to continue on our success and not just be a roller coaster, but be a level highway,” he said.

Straughn will be having their Black and Gold game this Friday at 2 p.m. in the high school gymnasium.