By Gene Stanley/Sports Correspondent
Can Hokes Bluff follow last year’s phenomenal season of going 28-5 and playing in the Northeast Regional with another season of that magnitude?
With a very tough schedule and three senior starters graduated, coach Jason Shields isn’t sure of what type of record this team may finish with.
“We’re playing a lot of tough teams all season,” he said. “I’ll be happy if we finish above .500.”
He does acknowledge that the tough schedule will make the team better for the playoffs, though.
Another factor for the Eagles is the new classification. Hokes Bluff made the jump to 4A for this school year and will compete in Area 11.
“Jacksonville is defending state champion, and we’re in their area,” Shields said. “They only lost one starter, so they’re bound to be strong again.
“The other spots are up for grabs between us, Cherokee County and Alexandria. But I’m not conceding the No. 1 spot to Jacksonville. We’re going to try our best to take it from them.”
The Eagles lost three starters who scored over 30 points a game, including Gadsden State signee Savannah Ward. Returning are Hannah Evans, last year’s leading scorer at around 14 points per game, and Carlie Shields, who was in the 10-point range.
“That was our strength last season,” Jason Shields said. “We have five starters who could all put it in the bucket.”
Elizabeth White, last year’s sixth man, is also returning.
Senior Morgan Moore will be the starting post player, but when she sits, there is youth on the floor. Chelsea Machleit is a junior but she hasn’t played before.
“We’re going to be short,” the coach said. “We’ve got a couple of girls around 5-8 or so, but the majority are all about 5-6.”
Katie Alford and Keisha Chapman will also start. Taylor Register is the other senior.
“We’re going to shoot the ball a lot,” Shields said. “I’m not sure if we’ll be good at shooting it, but we will shoot it.”