FALLING BEHIND: Exams, weather hinder local basketball teams

Published 5:41 pm Saturday, January 23, 2016

MICHAEL PRUNKA | DAILY NEWS BODY UP: Seahawk center Donshae Tatum uses his size to back down Northside forward Atia Shamseldin en route to the hoop.

BODY UP: Seahawk center Donshae Tatum uses his size to back down Northside forward Atia Shamseldin en route to the hoop.

Basketball teams in Beaufort County have struggled to gain traction recently. The county is one of few in the state that doesn’t allow teams to hold practice during exam periods. Once the teams were allowed to get back on the court late last week, they were forced back off because of weather.

Both Washington and Southside had to postpone games scheduled for Friday evening. The Pam Pack was slated to host North Johnston. The Seahawks were to travel to Bear Grass. Neither squad has played since Jan. 15 and has had limited practice time in that span.

Southside’s last game was a 76-63 loss to rival Northside. The Panthers face a similar problem in that they haven’t had much time to practice, but they don’t have a long layoff like Washington and Southside. They hosted games on Wednesday and Thursday last week, giving them a chance to see some kind of action.

Northside fared well against a formidable First Flight team on Wednesday and topped Manteo, 64-56, on Thursday. Coach Mike Proctor noticed inconsistencies between the two games that likely stem from the lack of practice.

“We didn’t play good (Thursday) night at all,” he said. “I thought we played pretty well, at times, against First Flight. You get in the gym, get some shots off and practice. You sort of get back in a routine. That might be why we’re up and down right now. Hopefully (this week) we’ll get back in this routine.”

OVERCOMING ADVERSITY: Seahawk Pat Coffey guards Panther Jabari Ashe as he carries the ball up the court. Southside and Northside are two Beaufort County teams that are challenged by not holding practice due to exams and weather.

The Panthers will struggle to pick up where they left off even after the weather dissipates. They host Bear Grass Monday before having a chance to get together and practice. The encouraging part is that, as a Coastal Plains foe, Proctor has an idea of how the Bears will approach the game.

Even so, the Panthers are going to have to shake off any rust and settle in quickly.

“We talk about it in pregame about what we want to do,” Proctor said of how to approach a game without having practice beforehand. “We’ve seen a variety of different (defenses) so far. … We sort of know what Bear Grass will do, so we have an idea coming in.

“We might have to make a few adjustments and use some timeouts early, but we usually have a good idea of what we want to try. … If it doesn’t work, then we’ll try something else.”

Playing Bear Grass allows Northside to ease back into things. The Bears are 0-5 in league play going into the contest.

The winter weather has been a blessing in disguise for other teams. Washington and Southside were both coming off losses and were only able to squeeze in one practice ahead of their Friday-night games.

The Pam Pack was supposed to host North Johnston, but that game has been pushed back to Wednesday. The boys will travel to a 13-4 North Pitt team on Tuesday. Coach Steven Flowers appreciates the delay. His team would have only had one practice before facing North Johnston.

“We were able to practice (Thursday) because exams are over. With (Friday’s) game being cancelled, we also practiced (Friday),” Flowers said. “That helps out a little bit.”

CATCHING UP: Washington’s Sharwan Staton, trailed by Seahawk Lawrence Brown, leads the Pam Pack on a fast break. Washington, Southside and Northside all have catching up to do thanks to exams and weather.

The extra time together is never a bad thing, but Washington won’t know whether or not it has found a rhythm until Tuesday at North Pitt. Routine or not, they know what they want to do.

“We’re trying to be stronger defensively,” Flowers said. “With this team, we know we can score against anybody. We just need the stops. We’re working on our defense and rebounding, so hopefully that will show up on Tuesday.”

Southside doesn’t view it the same way. Friday’s Bear Grass game was meant to be a primer of sorts as the Seahawks prepare for their toughest stretch of the season. They host top-ranked clubs in East Carteret and Jones Senior on Monday and Wednesday, respectively.

It’s turning out a lot like the beginning of the season. Southside, delayed by a lengthy postseason run by the football team, only had one practice before opening the season at East Carteret. Now the Seahawks host the Mariners with only one practice in about two weeks.

“Just like anything, if you go a while without doing it, you can’t just expect them after a two-week layoff to go right into a game,” Seahawks coach Sean White said. “You don’t expect them to play mistake-free basketball under those conditions.”

The level of competition the Seahawks will face only compounds that problem. They’ve struggled to put together four full quarters against the Mariners in their last couple meetings. Their season opener was an exception. Southside couldn’t get much going due to the lack of practice.

This rematch is shaping up to look a lot like that one earlier this season.

Falling behind at this point in the season is tough to come back from. Whichever teams face this adversity head on and overcome it will emerge on the other end of it better.