There were ups and downs for the Arabian Knights last week in Thanksgiving holiday tournaments, but the junior varsity boys brought home a championship by winning every game. All the boys teams competed at Scottsboro, while the girls competed at the Beach Bash in Gulf Shores.
• Arab JV boys (3-0)
Focused was the word most often used by coach Brad Kitchens as his team pushed its record to 8-1 going into last night’s game at Guntersville. The Knights defeated Scottsboro in the opener Monday 44-37 despite a subpar shooting night at the free throw line.
James Reynoso (11 points) and JB Bowman (nine points) anchored a strong inside game in the win. Tuesday’s 57-33 win over Madison County was even more impressive, especially to the coach.
“We came out very focused and never lost our intensity,” Kitchens said. “We controlled the boards, and that was a key factor in the game.”
Every player on the team scored with Reynoso again leading the way with 11 points followed by Andrew Byars with 10. Jaxon Borden, Will Cavender and Ethan Thomas had six points each.
Wednesday’s finale was no contest as the Knights blasted DAR 58-16, after defeating the Patriots by 33 the previous Friday.
“As a coach you always worry about that because if the kids take a team lightly and don’t play well, anything can happen in this game,” Kitchens said. “But once again they came out focused and may have played our best quarter of basketball the first quarter.
“Everyone played well and I was well pleased but we have to realize this is just the beginning and we have to keep working to get better.”
Byars and Cavender had 10 points each in the win, Thomas and John Wesson Johnson had seven each and Clayton Miller had six points.
• Arab varsity boys (2-1)
The Knights got some much-needed experience and some quality time with their coach that resulted in a good showing, with the exception of a poor shooting performance on Wednesday.
The Knights took control quickly in a 75-47 win over Madison County on Monday, with Caleb Isbell and Brooks Malone pacing the Knights with 15 points each.
On Tuesday, Arab defeated Charles Henderson of Troy 71-37. Malone and Blake Kelley both had big games inside with Malone getting 17 points and Kelley 11, including a crowd-pleasing dunk over two defenders.
“I was real proud of Blake in that game; he played great,” said coach Justin Jonus. “He came out very aggressive and that’s what we need from him.”
James Ed Johnson had 11 points, Logan Parker had nine, Trevor Miller eight and Kent Tyler had six.
“We had another good practice prior to the game and we’re starting to play better as a team,” said Jonus. “These are good teams we’re playing but defense is the key right now.”
In an early afternoon game Wednesday, the Knights played well but had a hard time scoring in a 54-37 loss to tourney champ Columbia.
“The defense was still good today, but the offense went away,” Jonus said. “It was just one of those days. Columbia shot the ball well but they turned the ball over a lot and we just didn’t take advantage.”
Malone was the consistent man scoring in the tournament after getting 14, followed by Ed Johnson with seven.
• Arab 9th grade boys (2-1)
Coach Jonathan Embry was very proud of his team, even after a loss on Wednesday.
Arab opened with a 59-21 win over Scottsboro on Monday with three players in double figures. Spencer Strickland had 13 points, Jonathon England had 12 and Dakota NeSmith had 11.
Tuesday, the Knights were down four at the half to DAR only to come back and avenge an earlier loss to the Patriots with a 43-40 win.
England connected on two free throws with 10 seconds remaining to give Arab some breathing room, but it was NeSmith who carried the team offensively.
He hit five 3-pointers and had 23 points for the Knights.
“That’s one of the best games I’ve seen him play. He worked really hard outside all the scoring,” said Embry.
John Ray Wilks had nine points and Hayden O’Reilly had five.
“That was DAR’s first loss of the year and it definitely wasn’t easy for us,” he said. Wednesday, Arab lost 44-38 to Buckhorn, a team Arab had lost to 59-28 two weeks ago.
“We played really well,” Embry said. “Buckhorn has the best team talent wise we’ll play all year but we were a possession away most of the fourth quarter against them.
“We had to foul, though, and it made it a six-point game.”
Wilks had a big game with 18 points.
“John Ray had the best game I’ve ever seen him play, in basketball anyway. He had plenty of steals and several assists, he just did a little bit of everything,” said Embry.
NeSmith had seven points and O’Reilly five.
“We still have a lot of growth to do but we played the right way this week and I’m real proud of the guys,” he said.
• Arab varsity girls (0-3)
Things just didn’t go well for the Lady Knights from the beginning. After a frustrating slow start Monday against Gulf Shores, Arab fell 38-35 to the Dolphins despite scoring 22 points in the fourth quarter. Elizabeth Brodhage had 10 points for the Knights, followed by Tristen White with nine and Aspen Miller with seven.
Tuesday, the Knights fell 49-25 to Moss Point, Miss., a team that plays pressure basketball. “Our defense wasn’t bad,” coach Jessica Thompson said. “They scored only six points in the first half earning points off their offensive sets, but they capitalized on our turnovers.
“They’re very similar to the type teams we would see in Jacksonville or at Birmingham, so it was a good experience for us.”
White had seven, Miller six and Brodhage five in the loss.
Wednesday, the Knights fell to Baldwin County 28-20 in a low-scoring affair. Miller led Arab with five points.
“We got the open looks we wanted and were driving hard to the rim, but we made only two field goals in the first half and we missed 16 free throws. We’re playing hard and we’re working hard but shooting this poorly makes it hard to win,” said Thompson.