Basketball teams start strong, look to region matchups

Both the varsity girls and boys basketball teams are finding amazing success this year and hope to continue that success as they move forward through the rest of their seasons. The boys currently have a record of 16-2 and recently beat the archrival Titans of Blessed Trinity Catholic High School. The game was close, but just like the football state championship, the boys came from behind to win 49-39. The girls also played Blessed Trinity that same night, taking a commanding victory, 56-32. The girls team has achieved a 14-5 record and continue to look for wins.

One concern of head varsity boys coach Tray Malloy was how the team was going to gel together once the varsity football players came back and joined their teammates. After all, the success of the football team took a lot more pre-season practice time from the basketball team this year than in previous years.

“The gelling of those guys that had been out for seven weeks with the guys that had been in fall sports since August was one of the smoothest transitions we’ve had in all my years of being here,” said Malloy. “They have a good nucleus of returning guys mixed in with a solid group of younger underclassman.”

Starting Jan. 23, the boys began their second round of region play, and will cycle through their whole region, playing every team for the second time.

The girls have also had an excellent start to the season this year. Head varsity girls coach Heather Karvis is very impressed with the girl’s 14-5 record so far this season. Two of the girl’s five losses have been to schools from AAAAAA, and the girls have not lost a game by more than single digits. Karvis was also very pleased with the way that the annual Holiday Classic went for the girls team. The Holiday Classic features eight teams. A first round win automatically puts the team in the winner’s bracket. The second round in the winner’s bracket determines whether the team will be playing for the championship or for third place. Every team that participates is guaranteed a total of three games. The girls took third place this year and their second loss in the tournament came from a AAAAAA school, Etowah High School, by two points. The close loss kept the girls from competing for the championship. They could not dwell on the loss for too long, as they turned around and played another AAAAAA school, Pope High School, the next day. The girls won 47-42, securing the third place finish.

“Our goal is to finish out our sub-region and take first place, giving us a bye for the first round of the region tournament,” said Karvis.

Taking first place in their sub-region would allow the Cats to only have to win one game to guarantee state playoff entry.

The Holiday Classic went even better for the boys’ squad as they won their fourth championship in a row. The tournament is the same format as the girls with eight teams. The boys played against Etowah High School and also South Forsyth High School. The victory against South Forsyth went into overtime, when the Cats won 54-49.

Both of these schools were in larger classifications.

“[It] helps make us a better team down the stretch when we’re playing some really good solid teams,” said Malloy. “We just have to take it one game at a time and if we focus on playing the way we’ve been playing, one game at a time, and don’t get caught up in all of the ‘what ifs’ we’re going to be fine when it comes down to crunch time.”

The JV boys and girls have also been successful in their seasons.

The boys currently have a record of 6-8 with three games remaining on the schedule and feel optimistic about those games. Two of their losses have come on heart-crushing buzzer-beaters to end the game.

“None of us [freshmen] really talked to the sophomores before the season, but then we started playing together. We’ve really bonded and become a good team,” said freshman JV boys player TJ Malloy.

The JV girls have also enjoyed a successful season, achieving a record of 10-5 so far, with three games left on the schedule. Unlike many other JV sports, the JV girl’s basketball team is entirely made up of freshman. This is now the third year the girls have played all together and they have became even closer this season. Freshman Marion Kronauge is on the girls’ team and is really pleased with their achievements.

“We just recently beat BT [Blessed Trinity], which has been our goal all season,” said Kronauge. “We’ve gotten a lot closer as teammates which has made the season much more fun. We have a dynamic on the court [that] is much stronger and we are all comfortable playing together.”

As all the basketball seasons start to wind up, both Karvis and Malloy are hoping that they can finish out the year strong and prepare for a new season next year.

“Hopefully we can have the same success we had to start the year,” said Malloy.