Lady Eagles excited for 2008

Published 9:19 pm Thursday, November 13, 2008

“Excited” and “anxious” are only two words of many describing the Pleasant Home Lady Eagles basketball team’s eagerness to get out on the court for their first game of a new season tonight.

Head coach Kelley Garner said her girls are ready to play what could be a successful season.

“We’re excited and ready to start (Friday) night,” Garner said. “We’re ready to play. I think that this probably could be one of our better years at Pleasant Home in a while. I’ve got three seniors: Erin Byrd, Ariel Gunter and Brittany Ward. Those three girls have a lot of game time experience under their belt and have displayed a lot of leadership at practice.

“They’ve been working hard in practice as my other girls have,” she said. “I believe you play like you practice. So, we try to have tough practices.”

Garner added that Byrd, Gunter and Ward will need to help lead the team to havef a successful season.

“I think that those three love Pleasant Home, basketball and they’re competitors,” she said. “They hate to lose and they know how to win. I think they’re going to put us on their shoulders and carry us through this season.”

In order to be successful, Garner said the “little things” are going to matter this season.

“I think doing the little things,” Garner said. “I believe in playing with a lot of heart, hustling every minute of every play and of course free throws are big. I just believe doing the little things will help you win ball games especially down the stretch.

“Sometimes I believe that not always the most talented team wins the ball game. A lot of the times it’s the team that plays with a lot of heart or one the puts forth all the effort they can. I know four years ago, when we went to the final four, my team was not the most talented, but they had the most heart. Playing with a lot of heart and dedication will carry you a long way.”

The games that are most important to Garner are the area games against Florala, McKenzie and Kinston.

“Definitely the area games will be our main goals this year,” she said. “One of our main goals this year is to host the area tournament. We have won the area tournament but we have always been at someone else’s gym. One of our other main goals of course is to make it back to the final four.”

Having six players with actual playing experience can benefit the Eagles this season, but Garner said depth could be a weakness.

“I do have a weakness, we only have nine players,” Garner said. “I have six girls with varsity experience and three freshmen with no varsity experience. We’re learning a couple new offensive schemes and some new defensive schemes we haven’t done in the past. It’s going to take several games to get the kinks worked out.”

Garner has high hopes for the Lady Eagles, as long as they can stay healthy during the grueling season.

“We’ve got to avoid injury and sickness,” she said. “I do have five eighth graders that could contribute this year. We’re working with them as well. That’s one issue that I’m concerned about and that is the depth.

“I’ve got six with playing experience,” Garner said. “Barring injury or sickness, I think those six will give me all they’ve got every game. Those six have got considerable experience. After those six, we drop to zero. We start (Friday) night and are ready to get this season tipped off.”

Tip off for the Lady Eagles against Zion Chapel will take place directly after the B-team game tonight.