The FPCA Highlanders played their first home game Friday, winning big against Coastal Home School. The varsity girls won their game 45-18, and the Highlanders topped the scoreboard at 99-67. At this time, FPCA’s boys are 4-0. The girls are 2-2.
The Lady Highlanders took control of the game quickly. In last year’s matchup between the schools, the girls were competitive in a loss to Coastal Home School.
This time around, Coastal struggled against the pressure of the Lady Highlanders. Offensively, this game saw the highest score for the girls in several years.
Coached by Rosby Frasier and Lee Christensen, the Lady Highlanders had been short on experience the last several years.
This year, the squad has two returning senior captains, Auset Gibbs and Mary Kathryn Whitney. Whitney is the first player to play four consecutive years at First Presbyterian.
“Mary is an all-around, solid player,” Christensen said, “She is like a Swiss army knife. Open her up and she can do it all. We are depending on her this season.
“Auset covers the floor well and can steal and deflect. She is quick and vocal.”
While describing the rest of his starting lineup, Christensen said he was excited about key additions to the team and a younger group of girls starting out.
Senior Cecilia Graham returned after not playing her junior year.
Christensen said, “Cecilia is a very strong defender. We were missing that last year. She is a textbook blocker and aggressively defends.
“Returning junior Jelissa Estrada is fearless. She will get in there and mix it up with anybody. She is not scared to shoot and creates good chances.”
FPCA newcomer, junior Cassandra Ruff, brings years of experience on the court is a big boost, Christensen said.
She is a good ball handler, and does not shy away from contact,” the coach said. “Offensively, she is creative and solid.
“This team has a chance to make a run at the region. It will be a good year for us.”
Ruff had 25 points, Whitney four, Graham four, Estrada five and Helena Scott chipped in seven off the bench.
The girls will face Coastal Home School again Jan. 6.
Region play begins Jan. 10.
The reigning GISA champions hit the floor hard and posted 99 points. Sophomore Isaiah Scott led in scoring with 35. Junior Khalyn Weekley contributed 27. Senior George Mitchell and sophomore Simon Steele both added 10 points. Senior Tray Harris put up 11 and senior John Killough had six.
Coach Shane Smith was business as usual. With high expectations of his program and athletes, the discipline and experience of his squad is evident. He said he is cautiously optimistic for a second consecutive state title run.
Smith said there are some area for improvement, even with the Highlanders’ wealth of experience.
“We need to step up and take charges better,” Smith said. “We need to rebound more consistently. I feel we are moving and sharing the ball better this year.”
He said, “Weekley has worked hard over the past summer and I have seen a good improvement in his ball-handling skill and decision making. Harris is becoming more confident and is played very strategically. He is an immediate boost off the bench and is so versatile. I can play him anywhere and get the results I am looking for.”
The Highlanders were to play Saturday at Middle Georgia. They will see action again after Christmas.
Region play begins Jan. 10 against Citizens Christian Academy.