Stepping Up: Christmas tournament a time to find identity

Published 4:31 pm Saturday, December 16, 2017

Northside’s Holiday Tournament is a time for local teams to gather for some relatively low-stress basketball. Washington, Northside and Southside — in addition to guest Plymouth — get an opportunity to compete against one another without conference standings being on the line.

Yes, it’s a chance to have some fun on the court and play for bragging rights, but there’s still some pressure on the teams competing. The Pam Pack and Seahawks are the two with the most to gain from the two-day competition.

No group can benefit more from this tournament than Washington. It is still looking for its first win of the season after 10 tries. With two 2-A Eastern Carolina Conference games already in the books, the Pam Pack is in danger of completely losing this season altogether.

Coach Ralph Biggs said that this isn’t what Washington basketball is supposed to be after his squad got drubbed by North Lenoir for its third loss in as many days last week. He would know. Biggs was a successful Pam Pack product. He went on to play at Towson for four years before enjoying a lengthy professional career overseas.

Moreover, Biggs, in his third year as Washington’s girls’ coach, has been able to build that program up. He has coached the Lady Pack to play as a unit. No single player on that team plays the hero — a problem he said the boys are suffering from.

Biggs and his staff have shown they can take a team and give it a roadmap for success. Now it seems that the players aren’t heeding the directions.

However, two games out of conference play and against local rivals is an opportunity to find that team identity that’s largely been missing this season. Washington has shown glimpses of its capabilities as a team. It largely dominated the tempo of the first half against the Hawks this past Wednesday.

Perhaps a low-pressure situation like this is exactly what Washington needs to get over the hump.

Southside’s situation is much less dire. The Seahawks feel like they have a sort of identity figured out. Rather, the Northside Holiday Tournament will be a chance for them to develop chemistry and for the new varsity players to gain experience.

This Seahawks unit looks a lot different from last year’s team that went 2-14. Demetrius Ebron has moved from point guard to shooting guard. Sophomores Zack Green and Ivory Moore are stepping into crucial roles, as are juniors Hunter Tyler and Will Warren.

It takes time for all of these pieces to mesh. There’s no better time than in a tournament to accomplish that.

Finally, this is as close as the Seahawks will get to a home game in 2017. Scheduling conflicts have cost them each of their games in Chocowinity until Riverside visits on Jan. 2. Pinetown is a familiar trip for Southside fans. The players should be pleased with the turnout from those that are clamoring to see their team first hand.

Hosting Northside heads into the week as the odds-on favorite to earn the title of best in Beaufort County. A shortcoming at Riverside is the only blemish on the Panthers’ early-season record. They’ve got a lot of the things figured out that Washington and Southside are still trying to catch up to.

The tournament kicks off Monday with Washington and Plymouth at 6 p.m. The evening’s main event will be Northside and Southside competing for the first of three times this season.