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Poplarville boys basketball learning the game

The boys basketball team for the Hornets took on South Jones and North Forrest over the weekend with the Hornets losing 63-39 and 61-46 respectively.

The two-day tournament on Dec. 27 and Dec. 28 was Poplarville’s last competitive action on the court before the end of the new year.

Poplarville has a young team that’s coming together on the court as the season progresses.

Head Coach Run Bowen described the season so far as a roller coaster ride, but he’s hoping there are more highs than lows heading into the second half of the season.

“We fix one problem, then something else pops up. It’s just a bunch of young guys learning to play basketball,” Bowen said.

The learning curve includes developing team chemistry on the court as players become more comfortable with one another in competitive situations.

To speed up the process, Bowen has had his players focus on the fundamentals of the game all season.

“For the most part we have guys with one or two skills and together they’re pretty good, but when we’re not playing team basketball and sharing the ball we struggle,” Bowen said.

Bowen said basketball is a “unique beast” in the sense that if a team wins a game in the district tournament they move on to the state tournament.

District games determine seeding in the district tournament, which is why the latter half of the season is so important.

Poplarville’s performances can determine if a district tournament game is played at home, or on the road.

Bowen said his players understand the importance of the upcoming games because of how they affect the end of season seeding.

The team has been practicing frequently to make sure the players are sharp and prepared for the plethora of important games coming up.

“We’re at the point where basically the whole team is trying to learn how to play basketball. Bad moments come up more than good moments, but it gives us hope that we can do it,” Bowen said.

The Hornets will have three district games in a row to start 2020, with the first one being against Forrest County on Jan. 3.

Each match up between the two teams has been competitive recently no matter the record of either squad.

Bowen said his players understand the significance of the game, especially considering the Hornets already have a district win under their belt when they defeated Sumrall earlier in the season.

To go 2-0 in district would be a powerful position to hold, so Bowen is hoping his players bring it all together when the team travels to take on the Aggies.

“The kids know it’s one of the better teams in the district and we know we can play with them. We just have to go out and play 32 minutes of basketball and not let anything get in our way,” Bowen said.

The game will begin at 7:30 p.m.