Keith’s John Pettway, right, drives to the basket against Southside’s Dequan Crawford during a summer matchup of county rivals Thursday in Orrville. Keith and Southside were among seven schools that participated in Keith’s play day, including Selma and Francis Marion high schools. -- Robert Hudson

Local hoops teams get early start at Keith High play day

Published 10:58pm Friday, June 8, 2012

ORRVILLE — Seven boys high school basketball teams competed at Keith High School on Thursday, but not necessarily with a goal to win, as teams are preparing themselves for the upcoming season — when the games actually count.

The Keith Bears hosted six teams for their play day scrimmage games on Thursday.

Other teams in attendance were Selma High School, Southside High School, Francis Marion, Sweetwater, Holt High School, and Murphy High School.

Each team played at least three, 32-minute games, with Keith playing four.

The games gave coaches a chance to see the direction their teams are headed in early preparation for the 2012 season.

Tommy Tisdale, head boys basketball coach of Keith High School, said he saw some positive things from his young players.

“I saw a lot of positives out of my new guys. I had a couple of guys step in a play a lot harder — Kent James in particular. He’s the one big guy we’ve got,” Tisdale said. “He filled in and he played a little stronger, but I want to get him a lot stronger and he’s got to get acclimated to the varsity game — he’s a ninth grader going to the tenth.”

Tisdale said he was impressed with his team’s defensive play, and he hopes the Bears keep progressing as the summer goes on.

“We got to the point where, as I tried to explain to them, we’re not necessarily playing wins and losses,” Tisdale said. “We’re trying to get better at what we do. Hopefully we progress more in the coming weeks, and we’ll have a steady idea of what our identity is going to be, but defensively, they’re still playing the way we need them to play.”

For Southside head basketball coach Cedric Brown, he was happy with his team’s showing, as they came into the games having only practiced a couple of times.

“A lot of guys got a lot of chances to play today,” Brown said. “What we did do well is we played hard the entire day. All three games, we played hard. Everybody was pretty much into it. They did better than I expected on only two and a half days of practice, so they did very well.”

Selma head basketball coach Woodie Jackson said his team has a lot of young players heading into the season, but a dedication to working hard will keep the Saints on the right track.

“Summertime, you’ve got to continue to work,” Jackson said. “We played good defense in spots. We only have one starter returning from last year’s team and we have a couple ninth graders, but there’s no excuses. We’re going to work hard all summer, we’re going to get better, it’s just a matter of learning. Defense is fundamentally like offense — you’ve got to know how to step up, help, and recover to the ball. We didn’t look bad. As long as the kids keep a positive attitude and they want to work, we’ve got a chance.”

After completing his first season as head coach of Francis Marion this past season, play days like this are a new experience for Johnny McCalpine, but he knows what to expect moving forward and where his young players need improvement.

“I think we need to improve on a little bit of everything,” McCalpine said. “Our defense wasn’t where I think it ought to be, but we’re going to improve. This is mostly my JV (junior varsity).”

Selma, Keith and Southside each have busy schedules over the summer in preparation for the season, including another play day at Southside High School on Thursday, June 14.

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