Lady Knights basketball

Arab’s volleyball players have joined basketball practice as of last week. They are, from left, Hannah Poston, Lexi Mann, Sydney Ferguson, Tatum Monroe, Laney Kelley, Bennett Elrod and Ava Kinney.

The early part of preseason practice for the Arab High School girls varsity and junior varsity basketball teams was going to be a little uneven in the best of circumstances.

The end of volleyball season was going to bleed into the beginning of basketball practice no matter what. It was just a manner of how long.

But then new coach Brad Kitchens was hospitalized near the end of August needing quadruple bypass surgery and a heart valve replacement. With five varsity players still on the volleyball court and another rehabbing a knee injury, the Lady Knights had four players on the basketball court in the early days of preseason practice.

But as of late last week, the volleyball players have joined the basketball teams, including two to the JV team, and Bryleigh Bodine is getting close to returning from her injury.

Best of all, Kitchens’ health is improving, especially the last two weeks, as he and assistant coach Terance Mann continue to work together to build the team.

“We’re excited to have the volleyball players joining the team,” Kitchens said. “A school our size has to have its best athletes playing multiple sports and that’s exactly what we have.

“Whether it’s basketball players playing volleyball or volleyball players playing basketball, it’s really the same. I’m really proud of the season they had in volleyball and hope the competitiveness carries over into basketball.”

The makeup of this varsity team is interesting. There are four seniors – Tatum Monroe, Kate Collins, Aspen Miller and Mary Kate Hallman – but no juniors. There is a very, however, a very talented sophomore class, including three who started as freshman: Sydney Ferguson, Laney Kelley and Bodine.

“They have great skills,” Collins said of the sophomores on the team. “We (seniors) bring experience. Every day, we go into the gym and make sure we have great energy and that we make those girls ready to practice – every day.”

Bodine, according to Monroe, is making a strong recovery from her knee injury.

“She’s got a full head of steam and ready to go,” she said. “Don’t be surprised when she plays college ball one day.”

Of the volleyball players who joined the varsity, there are two freshmen, two sophomores and a senior.

“At least three will probably be starters or at least battling for a starting position and the others will be the first players off the bench,” Kitchens said. “We will probably have a learning curve early in the season but if I don’t miss my guess, we will be tough to beat when we get used to playing together.”

Hannah Poston and Ava Kinney are volleyball players who have joined the JV squad. The rest of the JV team includes Emma Babb, Ella Bradshaw, Maggie Chastain, Shea Kelley, Makenzie Stanfield, Julie Stapler, Mallory Grace Thomas, Ava Wooten and Maleah Wooten.

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