Hornets working hard to build consistency

Published 2:58 pm Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Gradual progression was the goal for the Poplarville’s boy’s varsity basketball team.

Head Coach Run Bowen said that was one of the positives that came out of last season.

“I think what went well was we gradually got better as the season went on,” Bowen said.

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The main reason for the overall improvement later in the season is that a portion of his squad is available to play on the court until the end of football season. Additionally, with Poplarville’s football team advancing deep into the post season the past couple years, Bowen’s team isn’t at full strength until mid-December.

“In January and February the players started clicking and played better,” Bowen said.

“We had a chance to win district and we made it to the first round of the playoffs.”

Those early games were rough, with Poplarville losing four straight to open the season.

Bowen said a major issue with having a young team is getting them to adapt to the pace of play, and still have dependable performances from the athletes.

“We weren’t consistent game to game,” Bowen said.

“We play a tough schedule and some games we show up and compete well and other games we’re lackluster and don’t perform up to our potential.”

Additionally, Bowen is working to fine-tune the player’s mechanics and understanding of the game so that in a pressure situation being young doesn’t affect their ability to perform.

“We are young and being young comes with mistakes,” Bowen said.

“Right now we’re putting them through skill development, but it’s just a slow process when you don’t have that athleticism.”

Even with the tough start to the season, Bowen said that it was beneficial for the young players to get that playing time and experience.

Plus, once the football guys are able to join the team and it’s at full strength, making sure players are given breaks to maintain their energy becomes easier for Bowen.

Bowen said that even though the losses hurt, they gave the players more confidence because of the extra playing time they now had under their belts.

“And the football guys give you depth on the bench,” Bowen said.

While the extra bodies are beneficial for the team, Bowen says there is still a period of adjustment for the football athletes as they transition to basketball season.

“Our basketball kids are in great shape because we put them through so much,” Bowen said.

“Football shape is just different than basketball shape.”

“It takes time to acclimate, but we have hard nosed kids who go after it.”

Bowen said a telling attribute of his players is their level of commitment, much like that of Dante Buckley.

Buckley quit football his freshman year to focus on basketball, and Bowen said that choice has yielded real results.

“He quit to focus on basketball and since he’s done that his development has skyrocketed,” Bowen said.

“Now he’s on the Magnolia Watch List and this summer he was our guy if we needed a bucket.”

Bowen said those who are dedicated to the team really grow as players. That dedication is exemplified in the types of practices Bowen’s athletes have to go through in order to improve.

“We decided to spend the majority of our time in long grueling practices this summer,” Bowen said.

“We’re hoping that coal will turn into diamonds from that pressure. Right now we’re focused on practice time and getting the kids developed.”

That development will be key if Bowen and the squad are to achieve the goals they’re setting for themselves.

“I think we’ll struggle in out-of-district play because we are playing tough teams, but our expectations are to be top 3 in the district,” Bowen said