E.A. Sports Today

Playing it right

Randall expects his players to ‘respect the game’ when they get into Wednesday’s North-South basketball game

Cleburne County's Kiara Akles (L) and Oxford's Nate Lloyd are scheduled to play in the North-South All-Star softball and baseball doubleheaders Tuesday in Montgomery.

Cleburne County’s Kiara Akles (L) and Oxford’s Nate Lloyd are scheduled to play in the North-South All-Star softball and baseball doubleheaders Tuesday in Montgomery.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

It’s an all-star game and respectful of people coming far and wide to watch a specific player it’s Chris Randall’s intention to play everyone on his roster an equal amount during the early phase of the game. But make no mistake — it’s no gravy train for playing time.

After all, there is a game to be won and the White Plains basketball coach expects it to be played a certain way regardless of the stakes. So, the first message he’ll have for his North players when they gather to prepare for Wednesday night’s AHSAA North-South Basketball Game at Alabama State is if you don’t play right you won’t play much.

“The first 30 minutes we’re all going to play equal and the last 10 minutes we’re going to try to win the game,” Randall said. “We’re going to try to get everybody in; people have come a long way and they want to see everybody play … then in the last few minutes of the game we’re going to make sure we have our best five on the floor to try to win the game.

“The basic premise is we’re going to play everyone equal. Dogging it on defense and poor shot selection is going to get your taken out. It’s an exhibition all-star game, but we’re still keeping score so we want to make sure guys respect the game and play the right way. Let us play you; we want to play you. You play right we’re going to honor you. If you don’t guard anybody and you take bad shots you’re not going to get to play a whole lot.”

Randall’s team will have a distinct size advantage in the game. Eleven of his 12 players are 6-feet or taller, led by led by 6-10 Auburn commitment Austin Wylie of Spain Park, 6-8 Cleveland forward Khalil Johnson and 6-7 Austin forward Javan Johnson. The South’s two tallest players are 6-7 Hale County point guard Herbert Jones and 6-5 Monroe County shooting guard DeAndre Robinson.

There are two Calhoun County players are on the North’s roster – Oxford’s Jakolbe McClendon and Faith Christian’s Jordan Griswould.

“I’m excited, but also a little nervous,” said Randall, who’s co-coaching the team with Geraldine’s Cale Black. “You’ve got 12 kids you don’t know for three days. I know a lot of them (by reputation), but we’ll know a lot more once we get them on the court competing against each other.

“Some of the best games of the week will be against each other. We’ll play a lot of two-minute games, a lot of four-minute games. Cardiac games. By into the second practice we’ll know the starting five.”

Randall knows two of his players better than others – McClendon and Griswould – and he’s looking forward to the elements they bring to the game.

McClendon is a versatile player who can play the 1, 2 or 3 and be a lockdown defender. “If he gets in a bad mood, he can hurt some people’s feelings on defense,” Randall said. “I’m going to make sure he’s in a bad mood.”

Griswould does a lot of everything at Faith, but Randall is impressed with his ability to shoot the 3. He has been working this summer to make people respect his jump shot and Wednesday night he’ll be on the wing with his hands up to catch and shoot.

“It’s going to be a great experience,” Griswould said. “I’ll be down there with the best players in the state and some of the best in the nation. It’ll be a great opportunity to be in that atmosphere and I’m really excited about it.”

All-star games will be going on throughout the week in Montgomery. Here are the games and the local players who will be in them.

Baseball (Tuesday, 4 p.m., Riverwalk Stadium): Taylor Hayes, Piedmont; Nate Lloyd, Oxford.

Softball (Tuesday, 6 p.m., Lagoon Park): Timberlyn Shurbutt, Alexandria; Kiara Akles, Cleburne County; Rylee Waldrep, Oxford; David Bryant, Pleasant Valley (coach).

Girls Soccer (Tuesday, 5 p.m., AUM YMCA Complex): Aniya Mahaffey, Oxford.

Girls Basketball (Wednesday, 6 p.m., Alabama State Acadome): Haley Troup, Gadsden City; Aniya Burroughs, Winterboro; Brooke Burns, Gadsden City.

Boys Basketball (Wednesday, 8 p.m., Alabama State Acadome): Jordan Griswould, Faith Christian; Jakolbe McClendon, Oxford; Chris Randall, White Plains (coach)

Football (Thursday, 7 p.m., Cramton Bowl): Denzel Mooney, Gadsden City; Austin Campbell, Munford; Darnell Jackson, Piedmont; KaMaury Avery, Wadley; Austin Stephens, Munford; Frank Tucker, Alexandria (head coach); Scott Peavey, Oxford (defensive coordinator).

There are no local players listed on the rosters of boys soccer (Tuesday, 7 p.m., AUM YMCA Complex) or volleyball (Thursday, 4 p.m., Faulkner University).

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