Both Carroll Academy’s and Heritage Academy’s high school girls basketball team huddle up at the center of the court to pray the Lord’s Prayer together following a game Monday night at Pohl Gymnasium on Mississippi University for Women’s campus. Carroll Academy defeated Heritage Academy 45-33. Photo by: Jennifer Mosbrucker/Dispatch Staff
October 22, 2019 12:03:52 AM
Head coach Moe Reed knows what the Heritage Academy girls basketball team is up against.
The Patriots have just seven healthy players, including just three seniors. They don't yet have the familiarity that months of practices typically breed. And they have a new coach: Reed, the former head coach at Winston Academy, is in her first season at the helm.
So Monday's 45-33 loss to Carroll Academy in the Impact Sports Preseason Tournament at the Mississippi University for Women isn't the end of the world for the Patriots.
"We'll get better," Reed said. "I'm not down. I'm trying to figure them out, they're trying to figure me out, and this is a good test early in the year," Reed said.
While this week's tournament may have "preseason" in its name, the games will count as regular-season contests in the standings, Reed said. So the competition the Patriots face is even more meaningful, and Reed said it offers a good way to see where her team can expect to be.
"This is a good measurement for me to see what all we need to work on and get back in practice and really fix it in the next couple of weeks before our season really starts taking off," Reed said.
What she saw Monday against the Rebels wasn't always encouraging -- a poor start, minimal ball movement, turnovers induced by fatigue due to imperfect conditioning -- but there were plenty of good signs.
Senior Sydney Adair scored a team-high 18 points, showing off the hustle she always displays and hitting three 3-pointers.
"She's one of those that she's gonna give you everything she's got every night," Reed said. "She hit some big shots for us."
Taylor Wheeler scored six points, and Lucy Sharp had five. Senior Bailey Harris, who will have to reprise her role as a leader for the Pats, contributed four.
"Overall, pleased with the effort, and we'll get better from here," Reed said.
The effort wasn't there at all points for the Pats, as Reed said she was disappointed with the way Heritage Academy started the game. Carroll jumped out to a 10-4 lead, and the Rebels never trailed.
"They were the better team tonight, and they wanted it more," Reed said of Carroll.
Adair and Harris, who along with Carson Nichols are the team's only seniors, know that the Patriots might see plenty of games along the same lines, but they relish the chance to play spoiler.
"We're not expected to be the best, and we know that, but we have a chance to come and upset some people," Harris said. "We have nothing to lose. We've just gotta give it our all and see what the outcome will be. We'll have outcomes in our favor this year that some people may not expect."
While many people may not expect much from Heritage Academy, Reed isn't one of them -- she holds high expectations for her first year in charge.
"We're the underdog," she said. "I know that. Everybody else knows that. But I think we really could come through and surprise some people if we play our game, play to our strengths, be smart and be patient."
The familiarity Heritage Academy has -- Adair, Harris and Nichols have played together since they were small -- might just help the team notch wins it wasn't expecting. The Pats came seven points away from an upset of North Delta in the North State playoffs last season, after all, and another year playing together can only help.
"It helps our team chemistry overall," Adair said. "This is the smallest team I've ever played on, which I think will definitely keep us closer, for sure."
With two juniors, two sophomores and a host of junior high players providing depth, the Patriots know their experience is something they still need to work on -- and that it will come with time.
"We're really young, but we're gonna learn quick," Adair said.
The Pats will have two more games this week to practice playing as a team and improve their conditioning and chemistry. They'll face Oak Hill Academy at 7 p.m. Tuesday and Winona Academy at 5 p.m. Thursday.
Less than two weeks later, on Nov. 5, they'll start the rest of their regular season with a game at Hartfield Academy.
"It's gonna be a long season," Harris said, "but I think we've got it."
Theo DeRosa reports on high school sports for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter at @Theo_DeRosa.
4. Heritage Academy boys hold on for narrow win against Oak Hill Academy HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS