More than 10 members of the Arab football team, including five on varsity, had to rebound quickly from Friday night’s emotional loss to Pleasant Grove in the 5A playoffs to play in the Knights basketball team’s season-opener at Holly Pond on Monday night.
The team had one two-hour practice together on Sunday before taking the court in the Holly Pond Thanksgiving Tournament. All in all, it wasn’t a bad performance as the Knights kicked it into high gear in the second half to pull away from Susan Moore in a 72-41 win.
Coach Brandon Crews worked in all the football players – seniors Spencer Strickland, Dakota NeSmith, Caleb Perkins, sophomore Drew Puccio and freshman Zac Hallman – while the players who have been practicing basketball all along carried the bulk of the action and provided most of the scoring.
Crews was thrilled with the team’s play and especially its effort.
“At times in the first half, we looked like a team that had one practice,” he said. “We played much better in the second half but the effort the entire game was off the charts.
“I couldn’t be happier with the way they competed.”
Jonathon England was one of several Knights to have a big game, scoring 16 points. He didn’t start but Crews was not surprised by his play.
“Jonathon just keeps his head down and works hard,” Crews said. “He’s smart, he has high character and he’s coachable.
“Everything he did tonight, he’s been doing in practice.”
Guards Owen Thomas and Will Cavender, who Crews said before the game were the leaders of the team, scored 15 and 14 points, respectively, and both played tenacious defense, sparking the second-half surge. Arab led 34-26 at halftime.
Case Couch added 12 points.
Among the football players, Perkins had six points, Strickland had four and Puccio two. NeSmith had three points, on a 3-pointer at the end that put the margin over 30 points.
The tournament continued Tuesday and Wednesday. Look for a full recap of this week’s Arab basketball games in next week’s Arab Tribune.
• JV BOYS
Arab 44, Southside 39
Playing at Supreme Courts, the Knights were down five after a quarter but held the Panthers to two
points in the second quarter to take the lead.
“It was a slow extension of the lead and we made some free throws at the end to get the win, but
I was proud of our determination,” said coach Jonathan Embry.
Landon Strickland led the Knights with 13 points, Carson Jennings had nine and
Lawson King had seven.
• 9TH GRADE BOYS
Southside 57, Arab 31
The Panthers made five 3’s in the first half alone to put themselves in position for an easy win.
“We didn’t play terrible defense, but we’ve got a lot of work to do to get better,” said coach Dylan Pope.
Carter Kelly had eight points and Cole Smith seven.
• VARSITY GIRLS
Pisgah 57, Arab 54
In a game of runs, the Lady Knights opened up the season in a dogfight. Arab got the early lead before the two teams went back and forth for much of the game. The Knights took the lead again with 1:47 to go, before turning the ball over.
“We were just not able to close it out at the end,” said a disappointed coach Brad Kitchens.
Point distribution was exceptional. Bennett Elrod had 11 points for the Knights, followed
by Lexi Mann with 10. Bryleigh Bodine, Sydney Ferguson and Laney Kelley had eight points each.
• JV GIRLS
Mountain Brook 43, Arab 22
Makensey Stanfield had seven and Ava Kinney and Makenna Tidmore had five each in the loss.
• Archie Anderson contributed to this report.