Thursday, October 13, 2005

Potts Camp teams start season next week

By BARRY BURLESON
Editor

The Potts Camp basketball teams find themselves in new territory this season.

The Cardinals and Lady Cardinals are moving up in classification, from 1A to 2A. They’ll compete in Region 1, District 2 against familiar foes Ashland, H.W. Byers and East Union and not so familiar ones in Baldwyn, Belmont and New Site.

“It’s a tough division, and if we’re fortunate to get out (at playoff time), it will be even tougher at the North Half level,” said Chris Ferrell, head coach of the Potts Camp boys.

Kevin Harris, head coach of the Potts Camp girls, said, “We will have to travel farther, and we’ll be facing some successful programs who always win 20 or 25 games a year.”

On the boys’ side, Ferrell is looking to build on last year’s success. The Cardinals made their first trip to the state tournament in Jackson since 1993.

But only two starters return – forwards Jacobye Davis and Luther Jones, both juniors. Gone are Reggie Lesure, now at Northwest Community College, Chris Christian and Trey Dillard.

“We’ve got a lot of question marks,” said Ferrell, beginning his third season at Potts Camp. “We’re trying to develop point guards.

“Most of these kids have never played in pressure situations. We will treat the entire season like a big classroom – the schedule will be our homework and hopefully by the playoffs we will be ready to take the test.”

Those looking to fill some of the holes are seniors Russell Hubbard, Jonathan Turnage, Nick Henderson and Eric Jackson, along with underclassmen Josh Martin and Justin Smith.

“We will have to play a lot better defensively,” Ferrell said. “We will have to hold the score down and control tempo, which is not characteristic of the teams I’ve coached in the past.”

He said his team’s schedule, if rated, would be among the toughest in the state. In addition to division powers Byers and Ashland, there’s 4A DeSoto Central, plus Marshall County foes Byhalia and Holly Springs. The Hawks are the back-to-back Class 3A state champions.

“I think the tough schedule last year helped us get to Jackson,” said Ferrell, whose Cardinals finished 16-22 last season. “I’m proud of the direction of this program.”

First up, next Monday, Oct. 17, is always-tough Ingomar on the road. Then comes the West Union Round Robin, which the Cardinals have won the past two seasons.

“This team is working hard,” he said. “The players have a great attitude, and we’re looking forward to getting started.”

Harris, too, must replace some firepower, mainly Arnetta Howell, the all-time girls’ scoring leader at the school. She is now playing at Northwest. Also gone are Taquita Evans and Kayla Reed.

Returning starters are seniors Stellana Taylor and Latrece Walker and eighth grader Kenyotta Jenkins.

“We also have two or three girls who played key roles off the bench who will be counted on more heavily this year,” said Harris, whose team finished 26-10 last season. “They have to expand their roles and perform better for a longer period.”

Those Lady Cardinals include sophomore Jasmine Harmon, senior Brooke White and junior Lovetta Martin.

Others who will play key roles include Jaleeza Reed, Cassandra Hendricks, Lindsey White, Ashley Foster, Queen Dean, Barneka Lewis and Bethany Moore.

“Last year the pressure to make the big shot fell on Arnetta (Howell), this year that load will be spread around,” Harris said. “I have kids in this program who have learned how to play the game, and I have a lot of confidence in them. But naturally we will have some growing pains.

“The kids we have back from last year were out there in crunch time a good bit, and I believe we will continue to play good basketball. As far as wins and losses, I don’t know.”

Harris is beginning his fifth season at the helm. His overall record is 96-41.

The season-opener is next Monday, Oct. 17, at Ingomar.

“Going to Ingomar is never easy,” he said. “It will be a fun atmosphere.”

The girls also play in the West Union Round Robin October 20-23.

The round robin schedule includes – Thursday, Oct. 20, Lady Cardinals vs. East Union at 4 p.m. and Cardinals vs. East Union at 5:30 p.m.; Friday, Oct. 21, Lady Cardinals vs. Pine Grove at 4 p.m. and Cardinals vs. Pine Grove at 5:30 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 22, Lady Cardinals vs. West Union at 6 p.m. and Cardinals vs. West Union at 7:30 p.m.


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