After much ado, Pisgah Boys basketball is ready to begin its regular season at Owen High School.
The game against Owen comes one week after the Bears’ scrimmage against Tuscola, a scrimmage where although the team started slow, once it caught its stride, it proved it’s ready to compete. Head Coach Jonathan Whitson said that while there were positive takeaways from that scrimmage, there’s always work to be done.
“We focused on some stuff that we saw from the scrimmage and trying to fix those things and work on fine-tuning things and getting ready for the season to start,” Whitson said.
Unlike girls basketball teams in the region, the boys teams may be a bit sharper come opening night.
“The advantage that we have that the girls did not have is we were able to have our whole team together starting on Dec. 7,” he said. “Because they spent a month before the first game conditioning and getting ready, they’re in pretty good shape.”
In addition, the players didn’t have much catching up to do to learn the system and mesh with each other, considering most players are returners from last year’s varsity squad. Whitson said that because he has experience on the bench, he doesn’t feel restricted to just playing the starting five as some other teams do.
“I feel like our guys are a lot more comfortable running stuff and confident in what they’re doing,” he said. “They know what I’m expecting from them, and they know what to expect from me. These guys have only been in my system one year, but there are a bunch that I’m confident can make adjustments on the fly in the middle of a game because of their experience.”
Whitson said that because Pisgah hasn’t played Owen in years, and this is the first game of the season, he won’t be able to do any in-depth scouting of his opponent. All the same, while he said he always scouts opponents, he isn’t too concerned.
“What I like to tell my teams and how I have focused throughout my playing and coaching career is you want to know their strengths and weaknesses, but you don’t want to focus all your energy on that,” he said. “If we worry about ourselves, we’ll be fine.”
Pisgah boys were scheduled to play Mountain Heritage Saturday, but because the Cougars’ girls basketball team is in quarantine due to COVID-19, the boys game has been postponed.
“It’s just to line up with the girls’ schedule better for facility use logistics-wise,” Whitson said.
This means Owen will be the only game for the Bears before they begin conference play Jan. 13 at Smoky Mountain. Like with everything else during this strange season, Whitson said he and his players are taking changes like this in stride.
“Some conferences don’t even have one conference game, so we’re lucky,” he said.
“We’re excited to finally be able to play. We’ve been practicing for a month,” he added. “Back in August, we didn’t even know if this day would come, so now that it’s on the horizon, it’s time to get the guys prepared and lace them up.”
Tipoff against Owen is set for Friday at 6 p.m. and can be streamed on the Pisgah Athletics YouTube channel.