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Practice games help teams improve

The Jemison basketball team had just lost three games in one day, but coach Stacy McGehee was still in good spirits.

McGehee, and Verbena coach Jonathan Shedd, were less concerned with results than improvement during Monday’s exhibition games, and McGehee’s Panthers played their best game of the day in their last game of the day, a 44-40 loss to Class 6A Clay-Chalkville.

“We finally got the tempo we wanted offensively and defensively during that game,” McGehee.

The tempo McGehee speaks of is a breakneck tempo, which the coach said his team will have to employ in the winter because JHS lacks height.

“We’re gonna have to cause chaos and play uptempo,” he said. “Our goal is zero transition time; we want offense and defense to be the same.”

An example of what happens when the Panthers don’t dictate the pace of play was the Keith game, which Jemison lost 60-40. McGehee estimated Keith scored at least 20 points on offensive rebounds.

Jemison fell to Holt, 48-44, but, overall, JHS was much improved over this point last season, McGehee’s first.

McGehee on Saturday tried to substitute for each player after he had been on the court for three minutes—three minutes of maximum effort.

“We told them, ‘If you’re not tired after your three minutes, then you cheated the team,’” McGehee said.

An important part of how Jemison wants to play is conditioning. McGehee said his 11 players could have played a fourth game Monday if necessary.

The Panthers were co-hosting, with Verbena, a summer “play date” tournament, which included eight teams.

JHS will be the site of another such event on June 14. No admission is being charged, and concessions are available.

Jemison will also play in a team camp at Birmingham-Southern College this weekend.

Verbena, meanwhile, will visit Oakman on Wednesday in addition to competing in the June 14 play date at Jemison.

The Red Devils on Monday defeated Oakman and lost to B.B. Comer and Westminster.

“They’re improving,” Shedd said. “They’ve just got to get used to game situations.”

Only five Devils are participating in the program: returning varsity players Marquez Deramus, a rising junior, and sophomores Fred Wright and Brady Pope; and newcomers Kelly Dorsett, a senior, and T.J. Ray, an eighth grader.

Shedd said his team has played well offensively once it advances the ball into the half court but said it’s difficult to identify the problems because his players are gasping for air by the end of a game.

Verbena’s girls won three games in as many tries on Tuesday at Holtville. The Red Devils downed Holtville and Montgomery Catholic.

“They hustled, played hard,” said Shedd, who also coaches the girls team. “They rebounded well and did some other things well.”

The Lady Devils will travel to Marion County High School in Buena Vista, Ga. on Thursday for more summer practice games.