Experience is key

Published 11:59 pm Monday, November 16, 2009

Florala boys basketball coach Brad Garner said last week he hopes his experienced players will take what they learned last season to a “new level” this winter.

“We struggled (last season), but the ones that are coming back realize how important it is that they continue to get better,” Garner said. “I think there are things we learned last year, as bad as it may have seemed. If we can start out a little bit better then last year and continue to improve, then we can, at the end of the year, be prepared for the playoffs.”

The Wildcats struggled to earn 10 wins last season and failed to advance beyond the area tournament. They are in the same area in Class 1A with Pleasant Home, Kinston and McKenzie.

Garner said he is not going to change his overall approach to the game.

“Our basic fundamental package we use, as far as offensive and defensive packages we run, is not going to change that much,” he said. “We may be playing a lot of man-to-man coverage, but we won’t be playing the same type of man we did at other times with different people.

“Offensively, I think we actually have something we haven’t had in a while and that’s height. We’ve got three kids that are over 6 feet that are going to be at the post, and one that is 6-foot-3. I think we might be able to do some things that are specific to utilizing that advantage, that we haven’t been able to do in the past two to three years.”

Florala has eight players on its team this season, with juniors Zach Fleming and Lavoris Ball taking the lead.

“They obviously are who we are looking to, to know what’s going on and provide leadership,” he said.

There is one senior and the five sophomores on the varsity team.

“We have a bunch of guys that have one year of B-team experience under their belts and they’re going to have to go out there and do well,” Garner said. “I think a big key is how well those three will start and how they will mature over the course of the year. That will make a difference on how well we’ll do.”

Garner said making it to the sub-region would make it a good season.

“I think right now a realistic goal for us is to be able to get to that sub-region game and have a chance to get in the regional tournament,” he said. “I think our area is going to be tough. Pleasant Home is going to be good, and I know that Kinston makes you defend them all game long.

“McKenzie is athletic and Pleasant Home has got the experience,” he said. “They’ve got the players and they’ve got what you’ve got to have to win championships. They’ve got an experienced point guard. Ethan King has been starting for them for four years. You can’t put a value on having something like that.”