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Poplarville hoops dealing with fluctuating schedule

The Poplarville Hornets basketball team has been dealing with a season fraught with last minute cancellations and additions to the schedule.

The team’s last game was against the Purvis Tornadoes Jan. 15, resulting in a 62-57 loss for the Hornets.

Dante Buckley led the team with 25 points while Amari Gilmore and Torry Polk added 10 points each.

Riley Josey nearly had another double double and finished the night with 11 points and 8 boards.

The Hornets were then scheduled to play the Sumrall Bobcats on Jan. 19, but that game had to be rescheduled due to the Bobcats’ team going into quarantine.

Poplarville has had to deal with cancellations and rescheduled games all season because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s making preparation hard.

Normally the Hornets know well in advance who their opponent is, but because of the constant shifting Poplarville may only have a couple days of notice before taking on an opponent.

In a district where each team has its own distinct style, that lack of time can heavily influence Poplarville’s game plan.

“It affects it big time because there’s so many different styles of play in this district. Stone County plays zone, but it’s more aggressive all over the court and they use their athleticism. Then you turn around and play Sumrall who runs a five out motion (offense) that’s under control and very patient, then you go to a Greene County who’s patient like that but also bigger. And then Forrest County is different from everybody else. We’re facing a different style every game, so it’s difficult to prepare in practice because of that,” Head Coach Run Bowen said.

The Hornets’ head coach said the extra days in between the Purvis game last week and the Greene County match held Friday night helps the athletes prepare physically.

“It actually helps with conditioning because we practice that way. If we played Sumrall on Jan. 19 then Greene County on Jan. 22, you still would’ve seen moments where the kids were getting fatigued. But because we had those extra days to go hard in practice I think that helps,” Bowen said.

The team only has about two more weeks of games before the district tournament begins.

Poplarville is currently in the mix in the third seed, but with several district games upcoming there’s a chance the Hornets’ position could improve.

Bowen likes his players’ current mindset, but knows execution on the court will determine his team’s fate.

“From a game standpoint, they put a lot of pressure on themselves, which makes them not play well a lot of times. There’s no drill you can do to make them relax. You just have to hope at one point you play your best basketball at the right time,” Bowen said.