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Straughn readies for area

Straughn is looking forward to getting into area play in January as the Tigers vie for another successful year.

Last season, the Tigers made it all the way to the region finals, when they lost in the championship to then-3A Clarke County.

Straughn’s area includes Central-Hayneville, Luverne and Calhoun.

Straughn coach Todd Reynolds said this year’s area play will be tough, especially without the strength they had last year.

“It’s going to be a tough area,” Reynolds said. “Last year was tough and we had the benefit of having such good senior leadership that got me through it. They did a pretty good job and went 4-2.

“This year we have a much younger team,” he said. “It’s going to be a battle, not to say we couldn’t win every one of them. This first half of the season has been against really good competition, so that has to pay off. It may not pay off this year or next year, but it’s going to pay off. The key to being a really good team is playing good defense and making free throws.”

One aspect of the game that Reynolds said his team is working on is being consistent on offense and defense.

“Now if you’re going to do one or the other, you’re probably going to be mediocre,” he said. “That’s where we sit right now. We do one or the other. We have yet to put a string of games together where we have done both well.

“What excites me about this year is that we aren’t even close to playing our best basketball,” he said. “So, it could all come together right here in the next month and we could get on a roll.”

Reynolds said the teams he is concerned about are all three because they have the same goal — to win the area.

“They’re very athletic, pound the boards, push the ball up the court and all equally difficult,” Reynolds said. “There is no weak team in our area or one team that you say we have to beat. It’s wide open. It could be anybody and that’s what makes it so challenging.”

The main difference this year than last year, according to Reynolds, is the level of experience on his team.

“You have to have a lot more patience,” he said. “With a younger team, you have to acknowledge that as long as you’re improving (it may not be at the pace you want), but you can’t get too impatient.

“These players need time to develop and sometimes it doesn’t happen at the pace you want it to. You’ve just got to exercise patience.”

On his strategy going into area play, Reynolds said basically that he wants the team to “play solid defense, make quality shots and attempt to control the tempo of the game.”

Reynolds reiterated the importance of being consistent.

“Consistency is our biggest one I want to focus on the most,” Reynolds said. “Being able to know what product I’m bringing to the court every game. Not just every second or third game, which is where we’re at right now. I’ll have a player score me 20 points one game and then two points the next game. There is just no way to develop some kind of cohesive strategy when you’ve got that kind of inconsistency.”

In order to be successful this year, Reynolds said his team has to do two things well.

“Play defense and make free throws,” he said. “We were in perfect position to win that game (against New Brockton on Dec. 19), but could not make free throws. All a coach can do is put his players in position to win.

“It’s just like in baseball. If you’re behind big, all you’re trying to do is get the tying run to the plate. Whether or not he hits it out of the park or strikes out, it matters. You’ve got done everything you could.”

“That’s where we are. I’m excited because we have not even come close to our best game. In basketball, you only need to win one game to get to the playoffs. I think that game is within us, but I would love to have some consistency in feeling better about my chances at winning that game.”

Straughn’s first game in area play will be on Jan. 2 as it hosts Central-Hayneville.