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Boys to continue up-tempo style

The Halifax County Middle School basketball team has been successful the past several seasons with an up-tempo style of play.

Look for more of the same when the Lions open their season here Thursday against Bonner Middle School, as the Lions again have a team long on depth and athleticism.

“Overall, we have a solid team,” said Lions Head Coach W.J. Long.

“Right now, we are keeping things very simple with a load of cardio. We would like to run and get tons of transition baskets. Being deep this year, Coach Saunders (Assistant Coach Justin Saunders) and I feel like we can constantly apply pressure and play with 100-percent intensity.”

The team has six returning players and is heavy with upperclassmen, including 10 eighth-graders.

Returnee Cederick Jennings has size and can score in the paint as well as outside, according to Long, who projects him as a team leader.

Javion Featherston, another returnee, will handle the point guard position with the job of running the offense and distributing the basketball.

Terrell Carden, who will see time at the No. 3 or No. 4 position, is another returnee who has improved since last season, Long pointed out.

Jordan Williams is a tall and lean player with solid skills who can run the floor and attack the rim, while another returnee, seventh-grader Drew Lester, has improved and will be a steady contributor to the team, Long pointed out.

Seventh-grader Otis Slayton, the final returnee, played football and is athletic, aggressive and rangy, Long added.

Slayton will see time at the No. 3 spot, according to Long.

Newcomer Dashon Louden is the tallest player on the team and can knock down shots from the elbow and the foul line, as well as score in the paint. Another newcomer, Ben Harris, is someone who is fundamentally sound and provides solid minutes for the team.

Darius Robertson brings a soft touch around the basket and is expected to produce points in the paint, according to Long.  Robertson also has height and could see significant playing time.

Two other football players, Tyonta Logan and Jamal Brandon, are strong and athletic and bring those qualities to the team.

Logan will share time at the point guard position, and Brandon can handle the ball and go to the glass, Long explained.

Seventh-graders John Wells and Michael Spraggins will see time at point guard and the No. 2 and No. 3 spots, respectively, while another newcomer, Tremaine Chandler has speed and strength.

Brayden Moore, another newcomer, is a coachable player with potential to help the team and give it quality minutes.

Long saw some welcome surprises in tryouts, and he is trying to mold size and speed into a winning combination.

“This year we are top heavy with eighth-graders because we had some surprises in tryouts,” he pointed out.

“We have quite a bit of height combined with athleticism, so hopefully we can utilize this into a positive season.

“We don’t have any returning starters from last year but still have a great nucleus of players to run onto the floor,” he added.

 “I’m hoping to have eight or nine players contribute on a regular basis, perhaps more.”