Middle School teams showcase talent in the jamboree and look ahead to the regular season.
Springfield girls 9, White House Heritage 2
It was obvious that Springfield took a step forward in the offseason, but questions about Heritage came out of the first game of the day Saturday.
The Lady Patriots have won the tournament for the past six seasons, so the loss came as quite a shock to some.
“Right now we’re just not very good,” Heritage coach Rett Roach said. “I’ll take the blame for all of our offensive woes right now because I’ve only been with the team for a week, but they have to play with intensity too.
“There’s only two ways we can go from here. We’re either going to work hard and get better as a team, or they can choose to walk away, but I don’t anticipate any of our girls taking the second way out. They all know that we have some tough work ahead of us, but we have what it takes, we just have to work hard each and every day.”
White House Heritage boys 20, Coopertown 8
The second game was between last year’s boys champion, Coopertown, and a White House Heritage boys team that had a disappointing season last year.
The Patroits showed they had plans to compete for the top spot this season, beating the Eagles 20-8.
“So far I think we’ve looked pretty good,” Heritage coach Chance Ballard said. “I want us to play with a little more aggressiveness but still play under control, but it we can do that each and every game then I like our chances this year.”
Coopertown coach Chris Farris said that the loss of 12 players, including every starter from last year’s championship team, has had a profound effect on this team.
“We’ve got some talent on our team, they’re just inexperienced,” Farris said. “This is a brand new team from top to bottom and it may take a little while for this to come together, but I have no doubt that it will.”
Coopertown girls 9, E. Robertson 2
The East Robertson girls basketball team was in a rebuilding phase last season while Coopertown finished in a tie for fourth, so both the Lady Indians and the Lady Eagles are hoping for a better finish this year than they had last season.
Even though East Robertson showed improvement, according to coach Andrea Mills, Coopertown took the win Saturday 9-2.
“We’re still young and a little inexperienced, but we’ve got some eighth graders on this year’s team that have been with me for a while, and I’m seeing some positive signs,” Mills said. “We’re still going to have to work on some fundamentals, but we’re not starting from scratch, so we’re heads and shoulders ahead of where we were last year at this time.”
Coopertown coach Katie Head is in her first year as head coach, but she said she likes how her team has responded so far.
“Getting to see them in a true game setting was also refreshing because they handled it so well,” Head said. “We’ve got good size and speed and we showed today that we could handle ourselves on the court, so I can’t wait for the season to get underway.”
East Robertson boys 22, Jo Byrns 18
Saturday’s jamboree might have been an exhibition for most teams, but anytime Jo Byrns and East Robertson are on the same court, things are going to be competitive.
The Indians may have edged the Red Devils, 22-18, but both teams showed they could hit the 3-pointer, as the two traded the lead several times.
Both teams looked ready to make a deep runs this season in the middle school ranks.
“I want us to be a little more physical, and I want us to play hard,” East Robertson coach Kurtis Caton said. “We’re shooting pretty well right now, but I don’t want us always settling for the outside shots, we have to work it into the interior too.”
Jo Byrns coach Jo Jo Northington said his team still has some work to do before they officially take the floor for the first time, but he didn’t want to have this game effect the rest of their season.
“We only have a couple of guys coming back with any experience, so this is not how we’re going to look after the season is over, or even halfway through,” he said.
“We just have to be willing to come in and do the work, and if we do that, we have the pieces to be a good team this season.”
Jo Byrns girls 13, Greenbrier 1
Last season, the Greenbrier girls basketball team finished in a tie for third, but for the second year in a row, Jo Byrns finished runner-up to Heritage.
The Lady Cats don’t return any starters, but Jo Byrns is on the other end of the spectrum, and they are trying to capture the title this season.
“Right now I’m really pleased with what I’ve seen so far, but these girls have worked really hard all summer and it showed out here today,” Jo Byrns coach Rebecca Burns said. “I thought we also played well on the defensive end and that’s something we’ve worked hard on, so it was good to see the girls take that next step today.”
Greenbrier coach Brianna Newton said this has been a learning process so far.
“We’re literally starting from scratch,” Newton said. “These girls have a lot of hustle and drive and that’s good because we’re going to need it. We’re just going to have to put a lot of work in this season, but if we can do that they will start to see it pay off on the court.”
Springfield boys 24, Greenbrier 6
The final game featured Springfield, who was upset by Coopertown in last year’s finals, and Greenbrier, a team that is inexperienced, losing nearly every starter.
Both team also have first year coaches, but Springfield still had the athletes to beat in the boys’ division as the Yellow Jackets handed the Bobcats a 24-6 loss.
“The guys that we have are working hard and they’re playing together, so I like our nucleus,” Greenbrier coach Marcus Sholar said. “Right now we have to trust each other and play as a team, and we’ll live with the results if we can do that.”
Springfield’s Vic White, who has coached the girls team for several years, took the reins this season. He said his team still has some learning to do.
“We’ve installed new packages on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball, so right now we’re still trying to get our heads wrapped around everything,” White said. “We have plenty of athletic ability, but we have to play under control.
“Once we actually have everything I think we’ll be a good team, but we’re still in the learning process right now.”