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Poplarville basketball plays final game before district schedule begins

The Poplarville Hornets lost to the Vancleave Bulldogs 53-29 Tuesday evening in the squad’s final tune up for district play.

Riley Josey led the Hornets offensively and on the boards with 14 points and 10 rebounds against the Bulldogs.

The game against Vancleave was the team’s final one before reinforcements arrive in the form of football players who are currently preparing for a state championship game set for Dec. 5.

Poplarville will only have one day of practice to get the football players back in the flow of things before a Dec. 8 district match against Sumrall.

“We’re not going to focus on our opponent and just focus on getting those guys caught up to speed and in basketball shape. It’s going to be a struggle all the way through district, but I’m hoping we’re playing our best basketball going into the district tournament,” Head Coach Run Bowen said.

A major focus in practice will be better execution offensively and defensively.

Some of the players are used to the new systems implemented this year, but now the returning football players will have to go through the same learning process.

“The guys I have now, they know this stuff and they run it, but it’s just about execution. Finishing the basket, or defensively closing out, the small details. The guys who are in here now know the stuff we’re just not executing, and when I get the football guys I’ll have to teach them the same stuff and get them to execute,” Bowen said.

Not only will incoming players have to learn the new systems, but they’ll also have to prepare physically.

Basketball and football are completely different games when it comes to conditioning, and Bowen will have to be smart about how he gets the football players acclimated without causing any injuries.

“The toughest part of that is they had a grinding, 10 game football season from August to December and their bodies are tired. Because of that, we’ll have to go at a slow speed to get them caught up to speed. If you don’t, you’ll lose them. We’ll just have to take it one day at time, get a little better, get them acclimated and get there at the right time,” Bowen said.

Bowen said just a few points have decided games between Poplarville and Sumrall over the last couple of years. However, with such little time to prepare a good portion of his team, the matchup against Sumrall may be tougher than usual.

“I expect us to struggle. We have to put kids on the floor that will have only had one day of preparation, but they need to gain experience and learn how to run and play in our system,” Bowen said.

The matchup with Sumrall on Dec. 8 will begin at 7:30 p.m. and will be away from home.