Flashes hit holiday break with best record in 12 years

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, December 19, 2018

St. Aloysius boys basketball coach Eddie Pickle, understandably, is hesitant to make too bold a prediction about his team’s prospects for the second half of the season. The Flashes, after all, still have the entirety of their district schedule, several tough opponents, and the weight of expectations to deal with.

That hardly means he’s not happy with the way things have gone so far.

The Flashes have reached the halfway point of the regular season with a 7-2 record — their best at this point since 2006-07 — and a vibe that this could turn into a special season in January and February.

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“I’m ecstatic. The only team we lost to was the defending AAAA-Division II state champions, and we beat them one time. I’m flying high,” Pickle said. “But last year I told you this when we were 5-1 or 6-1 and then we fell apart. I don’t see this group falling apart. They’re a pretty close-knit bunch.”

The Flashes opened the season by beatingdefending Class AAAA-Division II champion Copiah Academy and ripped their way to a seven-game winning streak.

Pickle said the real driving force behind the team’s success — and the thing he believes will prevent them from stumbling like last season — is chemistry. Guard Alvin Brown and his brother Trinye transferred to St. Al during the summer and had an immediate bond with their new classmates that’s translated well to a sport like basketball where it’s an essential asset on the court.

Alvin Brown is also the team’s leading scorer at 14.1 points per game, and its leading rebounder at 5.2 per game. Braxton Chewning is second in scoring at 10.0 points per game. As a team the Flashes are shooting 43.2 percent from the field and averaging 60.1 points per game.

“There’s a chemistry here. Some of these transfer kids have come in and they have been welcomed as brothers by the rest of the kids that have been here. I really don’t know how to explain it. They have fun together and it’s like family. They’re like my kids,” Pickle said.

As quickly as he gets excited about what might be ahead for his team, Pickle tempers it. The 2017-18 Flashes started 4-1 and then finished the season 9-13. There were also a few concerns and challenges heading into the Christmas break that served as reality checks.

St. Al lost two of its three games last week, with the one win a narrow 58-55, come-from-behind decision over Park Place in the District 3-AAA opener.

There’s also a long layoff coming up before their next game. The Flashes don’t play again until Jan. 3, at home against Porter’s Chapel. Until then, they only have three scheduled practices because of various schedule conflicts that would have depleted the roster anyway.

“We’re having three practices. That’s all I can get them together,” Pickle said. “We’re practicing the 27th, the 28th and the 2nd, and we play on the third — and it’s a district game against Porter’s Chapel. I’ll work them to death those three days and beg them not to eat too much turkey.”

More importantly, Pickle is hoping this season doesn’t turn into a pumpkin. He’s confident in his players and their potential, but has also seen how it can turn on a dime and head south. When asked about the Flashes’ ceiling for the district schedule and beyond in 2019, he optimistically hedged his bets.

“I’m kind of scared to say and put it out there,” he said with a smile. “I see us making a run past district. Let me leave it at that.”

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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