Boys and girls basketball nix competition at Holiday Classic


Photo credit Clyde Click

If you’ve missed Will Benson’s and Mikael Sampson’s incredible dunks at the Holiday Classic, or haven’t watched the Girls Varsity Basketball team beat John’s Creek, a 6A team, you are missing out. The Boys Varsity team currently has a 12-5 record, which includes three games lost by only one point. The Varsity Girls team has a 13-4 record. Both teams are on track for a successful second half of the season.

The comprehensive highlight of both the Girls and Boys teams of the season so far has been the triumph at the Holiday Classic Tournament.

“We played some of our best basketball at the Holiday Classic,” said Boys team senior captain Ben Ladner. “ We won every game by a pretty good margin, so that was a good sign. We’d had a long stretch of road games before that, so I think playing at home for the first time in a while really helped us. Our defense also helped us a lot in that tournament.”

Karvis agreed with respect to the Girls team.

“At the holiday tournament, we were really focused and believed in ourselves,” said Karvis. “Each new game plan was studied and adapted and then finally executed. Our girls gave up a lot of time over the break in order to win the tournament. We beat Pace, got revenge on Johns Creek, who we had lost to earlier in the season in over time by two, and then finished off Paideia. Great tourney. [Senior] Andi Carrandi was named MVP of the tourney and [junior] Hannah Morgan was named to the All-Tournament team.”

Both coaches cite leadership as a huge factor in their success.

“Conoly Cravens, Christina Lopez, Jazmine Lester, and Andi Carrandi continue to lead our team,” said Karvis. “All four of them are four-year Varsity players, and their guidance and hard work continue to motivate our entire program.”

Malloy credits two definitive things as the reasons for the Boys success:

“Number one, I think our leadership has been very solid,” said Malloy. “We have a lot of guys that are leading a lot of different plays, and I think that’s always critical. And number 2, we are playing very unselfishly. We’ve had a lot of different high scorers in the different games throughout the Holiday Classic and throughout the year. Ben Ladner’s been a leading scorer. Will Benson’s been a leading scorer. Mikael [Sampson] has been a leading scorer. We’ve had other guys that have hovered right in that double-digit area, so I think being unselfish is the other key.”

“We could just as easily be at 16-1 as we are at 12-5,” said Malloy.

Zay Malcome, point guard for the Wildcats, agrees.

“We should have a better record, but the season has its highs and lows,” said Malcome. “Practice is starting to get intense because we have to keep the intensity and the energy up. We are entering the second round of region play and the last games of the regular season.”

Malloy acknowledged that practice has been a crucial factor in the team’s success. Because the football team went so far in the state tournament, the football players who also play on the basketball team had to adjust immediately to their winter sport.

“When they arrived, practice-wise we had to make that transition of really working hard in a very short amount of time because we were already in the middle of our season,” said Malloy. “So we’re getting those guys caught up. I feel like we’re almost there. We’re kind of able to maybe start shifting some gears now as far as practice is concerned.”

Heather Karvis has experienced similar success with her team.

“The season is going really well, we are 13-4 right now, with a seven game winning streak,” said Karvis. “Practices are going well. We continue to pride ourselves on outworking all other teams, and the energy is great. We have one new freshman, Grace Staes. She’s an immediate impact player, and the team loves her.”

The varsity boys team also has a new freshman this year: Peter Rooney.

“He is a very fast learner and bringing him up to varsity was the correct move because he needs to learn how to dominate in the post,” said Malcome. “We improved a lot when the football players returned, but we have not played to our full potential yet, and when that comes, we could be very good,” said Malcome.

Karvis emphasizes the importance of good team interaction and inspiration.

“Our chemistry is clicking, and each member of the team pushes through difficulties,” said Karvis. “Our scripture we focus on is Proverbs 3:5: ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.’ And the motto we focus on is from the Rocky movie: ‘It’s not about how hard you can hit, but about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.’ The girls team has been outstanding on the court despite a few seemingly major setbacks. We have played many games without certain players due to illness and injury and we’ve still come out on top. In other words, we have depth, and each member of our 12-person team can contribute.”

Ladner and the rest of the players want all fans to come out and support the Wildcats.

“We’d love to get some more fans out for the games and have more crowds like we had for the BT game,” said Ladner. “There are still a few more home games left, including, potentially a home playoff game. It would be awesome for the fans to give us a noticeable home court advantage.”