Basketball season in full swing

Both the girls and boys varsity basketball teams are in the midst of tough region schedules, including their most recent home game against rival Pace, but they continue to work their hardest as teams to excel.

The girls recently had a great stretch of four strong games but have had two different, tough, three game losing streaks. On the boys’ side, the team had two three game winning streaks, but they have also had their share of losses.

The boys’ team started the season 5-5 after fighting hard with tough teams such as Pace, Woodward, and Sacred Heart, a very strong team from Alabama.

“Overall I’m very pleased with our performance, especially with the level of competition we’ve played,” said head coach Tray Malloy.

Malloy had a reason behind scheduling the challenging competition early on, hoping to prepare his team for the challenges they will face in the postseason.

“We definitely front-loaded our schedule,” said Malloy. “We are in a very tough region this year, so we wanted to make sure that the level of competition in our out-of-region games got us prepared.”

The team was shorthanded to start the season, as multiple football players were competing in the GHSA football state playoffs, but once the football season came to a close players such as Peter Rooney, Nance Hill, Will Damron, Zay Malcome, and Malcolm Strickland were able to play with the basketball team, giving the team extra manpower and talent.

“It immediately gave us depth at every single position,” said Malloy. “We get guys coming back that are experienced and who have been at the varsity level before.”

Over the break, the team competed in the annual Westminster Holiday Classic, which is hosted at Westminster. The team went 1-2, which included a 50-34 win over Centennial High School, a 35-54 loss to Islands High School, and a 48-57 overtime loss to Dunwoody High School.

“The Holiday Classic was bracketed so that we ended up playing Islands, who is a top-five AAA team,” said Malloy. “We wanted to meet with Islands to get a good measure of where we were.”

The Cats ended up finishing fourth in the tournament, and Islands went on to finish first.

“Overall, I was pleased,” said Malloy. “We wanted to see more consistency with our offensive output during the Holiday Classic. We came out [of the Holiday Classic] with experience and learning opportunities.”

The Cats recently lost a heartbreaker to Lovett, 67-61 in double overtime.

“The Lovett game is always a rivalry game and always a fun game to play, and that was an exciting high school basketball game,” said Malloy. “At any given point at the end of the fourth quarter or the first overtime, it could’ve gone either way.”

Late in the game, there were many controversial calls made by the referees, including a controversial no back-court violation call on Lovett and a three-point foul called on Westminster that many fans did not agree with.

“There were some tough calls down the stretch, but we’ve got to learn to play through those calls and not let the other team, the other fans, and the refs get to us,” said starting guard, sophomore Carter Oesterling.

The team was able to move on from the loss and learn what to do for the next game.

“I think what we are taking away from the game is that we are a very solid team and have the potential to be an [even better] team,” said Malloy.

The Cats have a very tough upcoming schedule, which includes Cedar Grove and a re-match with Lovett to close out the regular season.

“We’ve just got to go out there and get wins one by one, one game at a time,” said Oesterling.

Similarly, the girls team had a slow start compared to last year, as the team started 12-3 last year and the team this year started 5-10.

“Last year we had a very veteran team, in terms of a lot of returning players and not as many new additions,” said girls basketball coach Heather Karvis. “This year we have a limited number of veterans and a lot of new additions.”

The start of the season was challenging for the Cats, as they faced schools in different classifications, including Milton and Sequoyah.

“We have played a lot of 6A and 7A teams this year, which has been great,” said Karvis. “We are improving and getting better because we are playing harder competition.”

The girls team also competed in the Westminster Holiday Classic and went 1-2 and finished fourth, just like the boys team. The team beat Drew Charter 57-47, lost by three points to Centennial 46-49, and then lost to Kell 26-48.

“We lost the second game by three points, and it was brutal,” said Karvis. “We were in control of that game until the last three minutes. Losing that way after we played so hard [meant that] we lost our sense of purpose the next day because we were trying really hard to get to play in the championship game.”

The Cats recently travelled to Lovett and lost 51-36 after having a 21-20 lead at halftime.

“I think that number 15 for Lovett just killed us,” said Karvis. “She had 26 points and 18 rebounds. I think a big part of it is we just got out muscled, out manned, and out hustled. We got beat on rebounds, and we lost on turnovers. Every statistic you name, we lost.”

Going forward, Karvis said there is one thing the team needs in order to make the most of the rest of the season.

“Effort,” said Karvis. “We need effort. We’ve got to have 100 percent effort.”