First Presbyterian Christian Academy tips off its basketball season Thursday, hosting Habersham. The girls start at 6 p.m. and the boys’ game will follow.
The Lady ’Landers had a tough schedule last year and finished 0-11 overall and 0-2 in Region 2-AA of the Georgia Independent School Association, according to stats posted on maxpreps.com.
This season, the Lady Highlanders have a small roster and many new players, according to head coach Rosby Fraiser.
“We have eight or nine players at this time,” the coach said, noting that assistant coach Lee Christianson was busy getting the girls ready for their first game. “Once again, we are a young squad, and we will be led by our junior, Mary Kathryn Whitney. We will look to her to help us lead and direct our younger players.”
Fraiser said multisport athlete Ausett Gibbs will join the team this season
“She will help bring in some leadership skills,” Fraiser said, adding the remainder of the team is relatively new to the Highlander program, some even new to the sport.
The coach said the region is tough but the team is looking forward to the games against Memorial Day this season.
“They’ve always been one of our tougher opponents,” she said. “But we are ready for it.”
The coach said that last year, the girls should have won one of the two matchups during the regular season.
Fraiser said players been conditioning hard and working a lot on ball handling.
“A lot of our opponents love to trap. So ball handling will be key and that’s what we’ve been working on,” she said.
The FPCA boys lost starting veterans Densear Carnes, Fredrick Heaggans, Richard Smith and Michael Burnett to graduation.
Those starters, along with strong bench players, led FPCA to the semifinals of the state playoffs last year, falling to Monsignor Donovan Catholic School from Athens, 64-52.
The Highlanders finished with an Impressive 19-4 overall record and 9-1 GISA Region 2-AA mark.
John Killough is the lone returning starter, coach Shane Smith said.
“Khalyn Weekly played last year off the bench, but will start for us this year and we have Isaiah Scott who gave us a lot of valuable time off the bench last year as well. We also have Simon Steele and JD Allen.”
The coach said he expects football players Jamison Golson and Nasmeek Murphy to join the action as well.
Despite losing starters, the coach said his players stayed busy during the off-season, playing for the St. James Coastal Crew Rebels AAU squad. He added the team has plenty of game experience from last year as well.”
I feel like they’ve already had a taste of it from last year,” Smith said. “It’s not like they are new on the block. I mean we are going to be young but they’ve played varsity before.”
Defensively, the FPCA boys have worked on their press.
“We like to press a lot,” Smith said. “Even though we are a little thin we are going to press.
“We also worked on man defense and zone. We like to play a 1-3-1 zone. Offensively, we pretty much tackled everything. We are ready.”
Smith said he expects tough challenges from Robert Toombs, Memorial Day, Citizens Christian and Twiggs Academy this season. He said each of those teams improved from last year and several return key shooters.
But, he said, he still expects his team to do well, despite their youth.
“I expect us to be in the hunt, but we are young so we have to grow up in a hurry,” he said.
Friday, the boys’ varsity will host I-Can School at 6:30 for their first region game of the season.