September 30, 2020

Braves look to rebound after slow start

The Braves battle on the defensive end during Saturday’s 48-45 OT loss to Troup County in Carrrollton

(Franklin, GA) — The Braves varsity boys basketball team will look to run things around after Christmas following a slow start to the 2018-2019 season.

The obvious reason for the 0-8 start was of course the absence of the several football players that helped lead the way to the first ever football state title less than two weeks ago.

While the team went 0-3 in last week’s Carrollton Christmas Tournament, the team did see improvement and head Coach Keith Simmons knows that some practice time with the entire squad will help going forward into the new year.

In game three of the Christmas tourney Saturday morning, the Braves fell 48-45 in overtime to a 7-4 Class AAAA Troup County squad indicating the Braves are already starting to gel.

Coach Simmons expected times to be tough early in the season with the football players adjusting to the short turnaround and battling through being banged up on the gridiron week after week this fall.

“We’re coming around and finally getting those football legs out from under us. We’ve missed a lot of lay-ups and free throws, but mean many of these guys have only practiced one day,” said Simmons after Saturday’s OT loss.

“It’s hard to bounce back after playing football and then trying to get into basketball rhythm but you can tell they are starting to talk more — and we know communication is a big key until we can get more reps in so that everybody knows what they are doing.”

Simmons says despite the winless record several players have impressed including freshman inside player Orren Rowley who has started regularly.

Our seniors are playing good and our freshman Orren Rowley is playing good. This Christmas tournament was more of an extended practice time for us and we just can’t think too much about our record right now. Our number one goal is to get ready for region play.

Simmons played a lot of different kids on Saturday and expect to use a lot of different line-ups as the team closes out the non-region slate. He thinks that 8-12 or players could see significant playing time this if not more.

Leading the way for the Braves again this season is senior preseason all-state point guard Alijah Huzzie.

Huzzie averaged over 20 points per game for the Braves last season including almost 24 per game in region play. He also led the 2017-2018 team in assists and rebounds while averaging nearly five steals per game to lead the way on the defensive end.

Huzzie led the Braves with 15 points Saturday followed by fellow senior Tray Dunson who tallied 12 points. The key play of the game came on a 3-point basket by Khalil Cofield with to tie the game with just seconds to go in regulation.

Dunson led the team with nine points in Friday night’s 50-31 setback to tourney host Carrollton.

The Braves dropped the tourney opener versus South Paulding to open the tourney Thursday night at the UWG Coliseum. Huzzie led the scoring in that contest with 10 followed by LeQuincy Shepherd with seven and Rowley with five.

The varsity roster for 2018 includes Huzzie, Dunson, Cofield, Shepherd, Rowley, Ayden Cannon, Ashton Bonner, Jameer Cook, Ty Smith, Will Hammett, Komari Clark, Qua Thornton, and Jai Wright.

The Braves will travel to Lagrange this Thursday night to face Douglass at 6:00 PM in the opening round of the Lagrange Toyota Classic.

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