Arab basketball

Arab ninth grader Hagen Stewart in action against Fort Payne on Tuesday.

If anyone can identify with the chaos of the 2020 pandemic, it’s the Arab High ninth grade basketball team.

“I feel for my kids,” said coach Jonathan Embry.

Not only have games been limited, but so has practice.

“A lot of the players have been sick or quarantined, then I got sick,” Embry said. “We went into the tournament at Fort Payne last Saturday with only a couple of days practice this season.

“It’s not been the best of situations for sure.”

The Knights fell to Anniston in the first game 52-32, but were down only 26-18 at the half. Dylan Bennefield and David Crabtree had eight points each.

Arab also lost the second game to Southside, but only by three points. The amazing thing was the Knights were down 31-10 at the half.

“We played a little better in that game and certainly had a good comeback,” Embry said.

Southside scored only two points in the fourth quarter.

“It still goes down as a loss, but I was proud of the guys for battling back. The good thing was, we got some playing time together,” Embry said.

Ryan King and Austin Dyson had nine points each for the Knights, Bennefield had seven and J.R. Young had five.

The ninth grade Knights fell at home to Fort Payne Tuesday night, 45-38. The Wildcat defense was difficult to get by on numerous occasions and helped Fort Payne have a consistent double-digit lead.

Embry gave Fort Payne credit.

“They’re a good example of a team that’s great on offense and great on defense,” he said.

“Over the weekend I watched them score 80 points on Guntersville, so we knew we would have to play good defense and break their press the entire game to have a chance.”

The Knights had their moments and just when it looked like the Wildcats would run away with the game, Arab would come back.

“We did play well in spots and made a few runs of our own, but we lost our composure in the fourth quarter and did some things fundamentally wrong that made us turn the ball over.

“Then, we got frustrated in the end,” he said.

Dyson led Arab with eight points while Crabtree, King, Dylan Morrow and Young had six points each.

“I thought collectively we played hard and we played together for the most part, but we’ve got some things to clean up fundamentally and I think we’ll do that,” said Embry.

But the coach is more aware than anyone that his team is playing at a disadvantage right now. “We’ve only had one practice in the last seven days and we played three games in that span. That’s unheard of at this stage of the season, but we have a lot of growing up and developing to do, but that’s what freshmen basketball is all about,” he said.

“I’m proud of their effort and most of what we brought to the court tonight. We’ve just got to keep working.”

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