Published 12:01 am Friday, November 18, 2011

Straughn’s J.D. Driver drives the ball in action during a game last season. Driver is one of two starters returning this year for the Tigers. | File photo

Expect a “much-improved” Straughn Tigers varsity boys basketball team this season, head coach Rusty Andrews said.

“From last year, they’ve had a year underneath their belts to understand the system that we’re trying to run,” Andrews said. “They’re fundamentally more sound, so we’re expecting a much-improved season.”

The Tigers enter this season with four seniors, six juniors and two sophomores on the varsity squad. There will be two returning starters in senior Avery Driver, and sophomore J.D. Driver.

SHS will begin its season on Tues., Nov. 29, at Pleasant Home.

When asked if he will insert more of a fast-paced offense, Andrews said “it’s depending on who we’re playing.”

“We’re going to play whatever style that keeps us competitive,” he said. “I like an up-tempo offense.”

However, like most teams, Straughn wants to get off to a fast start, winning games, Andrews said.

“We have the talent, it’s just building confidence,” Andrews said. “Nothing helps confidence other than wins. Our first game (against PHS) is the most important, and after that, the second one is the most important.”

On down the line though, the Tigers will have to face their rival Andalusia, Headland and Ashford in area play, beginning in January.

Andrews said he feels as if the team will bring more to the table this season in regards to area play.

“Everybody knows that with (AHS) coach (Richard) Robertson, Andalusia is always the favorite,” he said. “But, I feel like we’ll be more competitive. We should be able to play with everybody in our area this year. I will be very disappointed if we don’t finish second or better.”

Last year, the Tigers got off to a rough start, falling by five to six points in several contests.

Andrews said he doesn’t want what happened last season to repeat itself.

“With basketball, you have to expect the unexpected,” he said. “We just didn’t know how to get over the hump (last year) because we didn’t have that confidence. This year, that’s the important aspect of the game is to learn how to get over that hump.”

Additionally, “finishing games” is of the most important things the team has to do, Andrews said.

Before Straughn kicks off area play in January, the Tigers will play Florala and Georgiana before its Christmas tournament from Dec. 8-10, and then will play Kinston and Red Level before the RLS Christmas tournament Dec. 20, 22 and 23.

The Tigers’ first area game is against Andalusia on Tues., Jan. 3, at home.