By Carey Phillips
Smoky Mountain’s men’s and women’s basketball teams have scrimmages planned in the coming week as they prepare for the Nov. 26 season-opener at home against Tuscola.
The Lady Mustangs will see action first when they scrimmage Rabun Gap, Georgia at 5:30 p.m. today (Thursday) in the SM gym.
They will have another scrimmage at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Highlands.
“We just completed tryouts Friday so Monday was the first day of regular practice we had,” Coach Ollin Dunford said. “We had tryouts for the varsity and JVs together. That was interesting. We were able to do a good separation where it’s best for both teams.”
Some cross country runners joined the team Monday after the conclusion of their season.
“I’m excited about the returnees,” Dunford said. “I was impressed with the effort from everyone. We had some pretty grueling tryout sessions all three days.”
As for what he will be looking for in the scrimmages, Dunford said, “We will keep some of the things we did last year. We’ll be looking for work ethic and the ability to do what’s asked. Our Achilles heel last year was rebounding, and I’ve put a lot of emphasis on that.”
Dunford will have two weeks following the second scrimmage to make adjustments before opening the season.
“We’re going to play a lot more aggressive,” he said. “I don’t know how long it’s going to take us to get there, but I’m excited about what’s to come.”
The Mustang men will scrimmage Mitchell and Highlands at home Tuesday at 5 p.m. They will travel to West Henderson for a 5 p.m. scrimmage Thursday, Nov. 21.
“I feel really good about practice,” Coach Adam Phillips said. “The kids are off to a great start, especially some of those we have back from last year. We’ve caught back on from where we left off in the summer.”
With football and soccer seasons still under way, only 11 players have been out for the varsity and JV teams combined.
“When we’ve had late practices, the soccer and football guys have been coming in and watching,” he said. “That’s been huge. Also the football and soccer players were at open gym Saturday.”
He added, “We’ll be looking for fundamental basketball. We want good tempo and to play extremely hard. We never want to be out-physicaled or have anybody play harder than us. As long as we are executing and worrying about us, we’re going to be just fine.