The Long County High School basketball season tips off Tuesday in Ludowici when the boys’ and girls’ teams take on visiting Liberty County High School. The girls’ game begins at 6 p.m. and the boys’ game will follow at 7:30 p.m.
The Long County boys’ team is coming off a disappointing 2010 season in which it finished 9-15 overall and 7-8 in the 2-AA Region.
For some teams, records like that would be acceptable. But for a program that in recent years has gotten used to making at least the Sweet 16 round of the state playoffs, a first-round exit in postseason play just doesn’t seem normal.
The Tide struggled early last season, losing five of their first six games. Even though, at times, they showed the excellence that has come to be expected, they limped into the playoffs as a sixth seed. If there was one key element they were missing last year, it was not having a go-to guy that the players could depend on late in the games when they needed to finish close contests.
The Long County boys had a young team last season with little varsity experience — not nearly as much as many of the quality teams in Region 2-AA.
This year, that won’t be the case. If this year’s team does have one advantage over teams in the past, it is that so many of the players got substantial playing time last year as underclassmen. They also have a lot of time playing together as a team.
Blue Tide head coach Deshon Brock said the team has been working hard to prepare for the upcoming season.
“We are a little behind schedule from where I would like to see us at right now, but we are hustling pretty good,” he said. “We just have to keep working hard.”
Seniors on the Long County boys’ team include Henry Peoples, Johannae Jones and Jarquez Payne. The junior class includes Chris LaRochester, Jeffery Hall, Yusuf Gooding, Josh Berry and Jamal Anderson.
On the offensive side of his team, Brock said, most of his big guns are back on the court.
“Offensively, we return most of our firepower from last year with Henry Peoples and Jamal Anderson. We are looking for Johnnae Jones, Jeffery Hall and Yusuf Gooding to help us out on the post with Josh Berry and Jarquez Payne to stretch the floor with their shooting,” he said.
The coach said the Tide might be weak at the point guard position.
“Hopefully either Chris LaRochester, Vanda Vareen or Kalope McRay can emerge as a point guard and lead this team,” Brock said. “Chris looked good in the scrimmage.
“Practice has been great as of late. If we can continue to prepare how we have done so lately, we will be all right.”
The Long County girls’ team also will be trying to improve upon last season, when the Lady Tide finished 1-24.
Last year, Liberty County swept both of the games against the Ludowici team en route to a 10-13 season.
The Long County girls’ team will be led by juniors Brittany Hall and Raven Rose and seniors Laura Clary, Allissa Burton and Christa Prescott.