About all Central coach Bobby Wright could say to his players after three games in the Spalding Alabama-Georgia Challenge was “welcome to varsity basketball.” The Red Devils won their first game at the event and then dropped the next two games in the preseason tournament against some of the top teams in Georgia.
“I wanted to let these younger kids play in the tournament to see how they would respond. Most of them were handicapped. They had never played in a varsity game. They got a taste of big time basketball in the Atlanta area. We did some things wrong and some right. I had to see what they could do before I give the football players a chance at making the team after playing for the state championship. Overall, I was not totally disappointed with our effort,” Wright said.
Central will be on the road at Hardaway High tonight – just one day after the football season ended. On Saturday, the team will travel to Russell County High in Seale. Next Tuesday, the team returns home to face Opelika High. Next Friday is on the road at Lanett and it is back home Saturday for its second game with Russell County.
“In the past, I have cancelled games and rescheduled them after football season ended. This year, I couldn’t. We have games every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday most of the rest of the season. We just have to go at it like it is. We wound up playing a couple of the best teams in the preseason tournament. I guess they set up our games based on our past records. We are a lot younger and more inexperienced this year,” Wright said.
Central opened the preseason tournament against Mt. Zion High and won 56-41. The Red Devils outscored Mt. Zion 19-12 in the first quarter and led 25-21 at halftime. After three quarters, Central led 43-28. Xavier Carnes was the leading scorer for the Red Devils with 23 points. Jerrell Bellamy had 15 points for Central.
Central lost to Eastside High 64-49. Central trailed after a quarter 14-10. It was 26-22 at halftime in favor of Eastside. After three quarters, Central was behind 54-34. Carnes had 17 points for Central and Bellamy chipped in 11 points.
In their final game of the tournament, Central lost to Luella High 53-49. Central took the early lead at 14-11. At the half, Central had 23 to Luella’s 37 points. Luella won the final eight minutes by scoring. Carnes led Central with 17 points to Bellamy’s 13 points.