Flashes have lost 4 of 5 heading into district opener

Published 4:59 pm Wednesday, December 13, 2017

For the first month of the season, St. Aloysius’ boys’ basketball team was riding high with optimism and a winning streak.

That’s all slowed to a crawl over the past two weeks.

The Flashes lost for the fourth time in five games Tuesday night, 71-57 to Copiah Academy. The slump has forced the team to regroup and reset its expectations heading into Friday’s District 3-AAA opener at home against Park Place.

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“I knew this was going to be a tough ballgame,” St. Al coach Eddie Pickle said after Tuesday’s loss. “I can’t fault the kids’ effort. I’m still happy coaching this bunch. Even though we were outmanned, we didn’t quit.”

Besides the losing streak, the Flashes (5-5) are dealing with a major lineup change. Forward Jaylen Whitaker, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder, left the team this week.

Pickle said it will take some time to adjust tactics to account for not having a big man in the middle, but felt like the upcoming holiday break will provide an opportunity to figure things out. After the Park Place game, St. Al doesn’t play again until Jan. 4 at crosstown rival Porter’s Chapel Academy.

“We’ve got the first district game Friday. We’ve had one real practice without Jaylen and I don’t know what we can do without a true post player. I’ve got to figure out where we’re going to get that from,” Pickle said. “I’ll game plan as best I can with what I’ve got. If that means slowing the ball down and stalling and making people come out and do things they’re not comfortable doing, we’ll do what we’ve got to do.”

St. Al got a balanced effort against Copiah — five players scored at least six points each, led by Braxton Chewning with 11 — but couldn’t overcome 22 turnovers and a rough second quarter.

After trailing 16-11 entering the second period, the Flashes fell behind by 15 points at halftime and never got the deficit back to single digits. Jared Little hit three 3-pointers in the first half for Copiah (4-3) and finished with 14 points.

It was the second time this season that Copiah has beaten St. Al. It also won in the season opener for both teams back in early November.

“It got away from us. We made some stupid fouls and some stupid turnovers. When you’ve only got eight kids, it’s hard to work against a halfcourt trap so I had my JV kids come into practice one day and we went 5-on-18 trying to work on that press. If the offense turned the ball over, then we had to run,” Pickle said. “Tonight, we did some things better than we did last time. We had 31 turnovers the last time we played them and 22 tonight. We’re not going to have a team that’s going to press us any more than that team.”

Dalton Hayles led Copiah with 19 points, while Dewey Shannon scored 13 and Levi Brunt had 12.
James Trichell had nine points for St. Al, Thomas Trichell scored eight, Phillip Upshaw seven and Carrington Busari six.

Despite the loss, and the losing streak, Pickle remained optimistic for the long-term success of the Flashes. There’s only one non-district game left on the schedule, meaning everything up to this point has just been preparation for what lays ahead.

“It will come around,” Pickle said. “Win or lose Friday night, we come back after Christmas and play Porter’s Chapel. We’re going to be definitely looking for that one. They’ll be game planned for big time over the holidays. Our district schedule, the real season, starts Friday and we’ll see where we go.”

(G) Copiah Academy 63, St. Aloysius 30

Rachel Moore scored all eight of her points in the first quarter as Copiah Academy sprinted out to a 21-2 lead, and it went on to beat the St. Aloysius Lady Flashes on Tuesday.

Kaitlyn Newell hit three 3-pointers in the second quarter for Copiah and finished with a game-high 11 points. Brooke Foster added 10 points.

Grace Upshaw led St. Al with nine points, Taylor Chewning scored seven — all in the fourth quarter — and Kyla Goodlow chipped in six.

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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