Samuel D. Logan
The Valdosta Daily Times
The Lowndes boys basketball team will travel across town tonight to take on Valdosta in yet another clash between the in-town rivals.
The last time the teams met was Jan. 4 at Lowndes, where the Wildcats pulled off an exciting 63-52 victory against the Vikings. Lowndes enters 9-10, while Valdosta is 12-7.
Four key players for the ’Cats in the first meeting were Anthony Smith (11 points), Tra Barrett (12 points), Rashad Lewis (12 points) and Elliot Ingram (11 points). Smith also led the team with eight rebounds and four steals.
Eric Henderson led the Vikings with 21 points but his efforts weren’t enough to seal the win.
In addition to the boys game at 7:30 p.m., the girls teams will be facing off as well at 6 p.m., with the Wildcats holding a strong 13-7 record, while the Vikettes boast a 13-5 record prior to Friday’s trip to Coffee. Last time these teams met, the Vikettes got a 68-63 win.
VHS girls coach Ed Wilcox hopes this matchup will be different, however.
“We’ve been working on ways to defend their perimeter player,” Wilcox said. “We are going to try to frustrate her a lot. We also are going to focus on keeping Di’era DeLoatch off the board, and lastly we’re working on stopping our turnovers and mistakes.
“In practice this week working on our defensive intensity was the primary focus. It’s something that we’ve been lacking the last few weeks. We also have been working on making our shots in the paint and making the easy baskets.”
As far as the boys matchup is concerned, the Vikings hope for a different outcome from their last matchup as well.
“This game is always an exciting game to be a part of,” Lowndes coach John Arnold said. “Valdosta is well-coached and they play hard. Our players have been practicing hard this week preparing for this challenge. Our team is looking forward to competing and improving as a team.
The Wildcats are hoping to come out on top again, however.
“It’s not about the X’s and O’s at practice anymore,” Valdosta coach Antonio Haynes sid. “It’s more about getting on the same page as a team and playing harder in the game.
“Whichever team comes out and plays harder will win tonight. It doesn’t matter whose court we’re on.”
For the Vikings, seniors Alan Urrutia and Henderson have been leaders for the team all season, and Arnold hopes that leadership continues.
“Urrutia and Henderson have both played well so far this season,” he said. “I expect them to continue to lead our team.”
The Wildcats are not focused on individual player efforts as they will try to break a three-game losing streak to build team morale.
“After losing three in a row, you don’t want to look at individuals,” Haynes said. “We have to look at the team as a whole to win games.”