Basketball championships are won in March, but the team bonding begins as early as the summer.
Dropping down from Class 4A for at least the next two seasons, Peabody is gearing up for a run at the 3A state title and is looking impressive.
“We’ve always said that the season depends on how well we work in the summer,” Peabody coach Charles Smith said. “We’ve had a really, really good summer.”
Recently, the Warhorses won the Houston National Summer Showcase and took part in team camps at Barbe and Southern University. They also finished undefeated in summer league play, while facing some of the toughest competition — such as Natchitoches Central and Alexandria Senior High.
“The competition has been great,” Smith said. “Even in the team camps, they put us against the best teams that were available. We’ve played the top competition throughout the summer.”
With that, it has allowed Peabody to strengthen bonds.
“It gives us a chance to come together as a family,” Smith said. “The kids get the chance to go off and stay in motels, eat, sleep and live together. That helps us to build character, morale and to come together as a team.”
Despite having just one senior last season, the Warhorses won District 3-4A over Leesville — their 21st district title in 22 seasons — and made it to the 4A quarterfinals where it lost to St. Michael the Archangel.
This season, Peabody will have a bit more experience as senior Jacoby Ross and juniors Cedric Russell and Kevin Norman will be called upon to be leaders. All three players had impressive showings at the Houston National Summer Showcase.
“(Last year), they were juniors and sophomores and that year of development showed this weekend,” Smith said. “We were no doubt about it, the best team and they were the best players of that tournament.”
While those three played well, Smith had another standout performer in junior point guard Terrell McGee.
“He’s beginning to step up as a point guard,” Smith said. “He’s worked very hard this summer on his ball handling and passing. He’s also beginning to hit his jump shots and his 3-point shot is beginning to improve. The weakness that we have right now, is developing a center.”
While the Warhorses will miss battles with Tioga and Leesville that have had big district implications, the move down to District 3-3A will allow them to rekindle historic rivalries against teams such as Marksville, Winnfield and Vidalia.
“I’m sure that the fan base will be reenergized, because now we’re playing some teams that he have not played in a few years,” Smith said. “Hopefully that will bring back the enthusiasm for basketball in Central Louisiana.”