E.A. Sports Today

Court presence

The girls teams from White Plains, Oxford open the county basketball schedule with tournament appearance in Oneonta

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Chris Randall has never started a basketball season as early as his White Plains girls team is this week, but ready or not here it comes.

The Lady Wildcats – and Oxford – open the basketball season for Calhoun County teams Tuesday when they play in Oneonta’s girls tip-off event Tuesday and Thursday.

For Randall, who has the White Plains girls and boys teams this year, it’s a matter of convenience. He tried to find a tournament before Christmas that wouldn’t conflict with his boys schedule but everything he looked into was booked.

The Lady Wildcats will play host Oneonta Tuesday and Coosa Christian Thursday; both games are at 4:30 p.m. Oxford plays Coosa Christian Tuesday and Altamont Thursday; both games are at 5:45.

The first boys game in the county is Nov. 13 when Faith Christian visits three-time reigning Class 1A state champion Sacred Heart in an Area 10 game.

“I’m always looking for things to worry about this time of year,” Randall said. “I just felt like we needed to get away and play somewhere away from here … and really get a checklist of where we are – good and bad.

“There’s no pressure. We’re not worried about the scoreboard, we’re worried about getting better. We’re going to play some good teams over there and get some strengths and some weaknesses exposed and get started.

“I don’t know we’ll do it again next year. Because of the situation and everything being brand new and getting to know each other, I like that part of it. I don’t know we’ll keep doing it.”

Randall added the White Plains girls team to his responsibilities after Joi Watts Washington stepped down following her wedding. He is one of two coaches in Calhoun County coaching their school’s boys and girls teams.

This Lady Wildcats’ team will be long on depth, but short on experience. The biggest concern is filling the void left by the graduation of point guard Shelby Wood, who did so many things for the team and is now at Southern Union. Senior Chasity Nelson and freshman Lily Ponder will be in that role and likely be in the backcourt at the same time. Landry Bussey and Jocely Harris will be their post presence.

“I think we’re going to be able to play 10 people; that’s what I’m happy about,” Randall said. “We played a lot of games this summer and started settling into roles. This is different for them and different for me. These two games we really start defining roles and shot selection.”

The games also give Randall a chance to catch up with some old friends. Brandon Crews, his former White Plains assistant, is the boys head coach at Oneonta and sure to be around the gym.

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