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Jr. Warriors getting ready for the unknown

BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR SPORTS EDITOR
ivan.sanders@elizabethton.com
Just like so many other teams, the Happy Valley Middle School Jr. Warriors are getting ready for a season that has so many unknowns that they will just be happy to play a majority of their games and stay healthy.

After finding out their first four games have been postponed, the Jr. Warriors are remained focus on preparing for a season and when the opportunity comes to play they want to be ready.

Head coach Daniel Carder has been pleased with what he has seen from his team to this point in the season.

“A lot of these guys had to play last year,” Carder said. “We were young so they got experience. We are not deep and that will be something that we will have to be able to handle.

“Some other guys are going to have to step up. In the brief practices that we have got to have to this point, I like what I see. We are athletic and we have to be smart. We have to do some of the little things.”

Carder said that his team wasn’t overly big but wasn’t small either as most of the Jr. Warriors are about the same size.

“We have to play good defense and we have to rebound and we can’t allow teams to put us in a half-court game where size could be a problem,” said Carder. “I am pretty optimistic. Hopefully, we will get to exhibit some of those things that we have seen in practice so far.

“We are going to have some of the younger guys give us some deeper depth where we can go 10 deep. Right now we are probably at eight and I would like to get to 10.

“That’s partly to where we started a little bit late but we are trying to get some of these seventh and even sixth graders to help us in some of the situations that we may have this season.”

With a team that saw several players get plenty of time as seventh graders, that experience will have to transfer over to the court in the form of leadership.

Carder is counting on a core group of players to bring that to the court when the new season does get underway.

“As far as leaders go, a lot of these guys that are eighth-graders this year had to play last year. Austin Nickles has to be our floor leader,” stated Carder.

“Drew Blevins has to be an overall leader because I think a lot of times the kids look to him. He was our quarterback so that is somebody that they are used to him saying things and determining the plays.

“It goes even down to some of our guys like A.J. Campbell, Dylan Furr, and Donovan Maxwell who played a lot last year,” Carder continued.

“We have some newcomers in Freddy Jackson and Greg Visser but those guys that played last year as seventh graders have all got to show leadership skills and Nickles is very important right now because he is our floor general. Not that we don’t have other guys to play point but right now he is it.”

With COVID creating the greatest unknown of all, Carder said that each player no matter what color of jersey or team they play on shouldn’t take their season for granted as it could be taken away as well as be played.

“That is almost the situation they need to take in everything right now,” commented Carder. School – you have got to be accountable for your school stuff and when it comes to basketball – I don’t want to say that we aren’t going to play but we could have three games one week and then we could have a situation that happens where we can’t play two games.

“You have got to be mentally tough. We could play four games a week and we could have a week where we don’t play. It changes daily. I think that as long as we are smart. You got to continue to wear your mask and keep your distance.

“With basketball, there are some things that we are limited out on the floor,” Carder continued. “We have to do the best we can to handle those situations and try to control what we can control and when it comes to the season be ready for anything.”

The Jr. Warriors’ first game will now be Chuckey Doak on November 30th at Happy Valley High School after games with Hampton, T.A. Dugger, and Cloudland were postponed.