Pam Pack can’t catch a break in 0-6 start

Published 5:31 pm Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Times are tough for Washington basketball. The Pam Pack is still chasing its first win after six games, which is a season-starting losing streak longer than last year’s that saw the team end up 4-20.

The beginning of the 2016 season saw Washington lose by at least 18 points and as many as 39 before finally breaking through at home against Northern Nash. This season, three of Washington’s first four losses were by a combined 28 points. It has been competitive for stretches, but has yet to put together a complete game.

It’s a familiar situation for the number of Pam Pack players that traded in their football jerseys for basketball uniforms. It took until Week 4 for Washington to find its first win — a 36-32 victory at Beaufort County rival Northside. Pinetown wasn’t as friendly in basketball season, though. The Panthers dominated the Pam Pack in both meetings last week.

Those football players helped fuel a turnaround after that win. Washington decimated North Lenoir and South Lenoir in 2-A Eastern Carolina Conference competition. That positioned the Pam Pack to fight for a spot in the playoffs in their final regular-season game. They did just that when they went to conference-champion West Craven and convincingly won, 47-28.

It’s a matter of taking that experience from football and applying it to basketball.

“Just don’t give up. Anything can happen,” senior Ja’quez Ruffin said. “Everybody thought we wouldn’t make it to the playoffs, but we got it by the skin of our teeth. … We have to play like we know how to play basketball.”

Ja’quez Ruffin sees his opening to drive the lane.

All it takes is to get the taste of that first win. Getting over that hump can do wonders. In the meantime, though, the players are getting increasingly frustrated. Some, like junior Uriah Lawrence, know what it takes.

But knowing what it takes and seeing it executed are two different concepts.

“We’ve got to start listening to our coaches better,” Lawrence said. “Coming out for practice, a lot of times … we don’t take it seriously. Our coaches talk about that to us. This is the reason why we’re losing now. We’ve got to be better with the little things. That’s what our coaches are telling us.

“It’s going to take a lot for us just to come together and listen. We’ve got to. I’m not trying to go through the season 0-and-whatever because that’s not me. I really care about basketball.”

Time is working against Washington. These are issues that many other struggling teams are already sorting out. The Pam Pack has roughly a week before it travels to a powerhouse in Greene Central for its ECC opener.

Wednesday’s home meeting with former 2-A Eastern Plains Conference rival North Pitt will be a gauge for where Washington it. The Panthers sit at 2-3. They’ll likely hope to gain some traction, but with their conference opener taking place in the New Year, they may not have the same sense of urgency.

After being humbled by Northside, Washington can show improvement without winning, but a win in the next week would go a long way.

“The coaches are giving us a road map to win and we’re not following it. That’s all it is,” Lawrence said.