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Hornets open region play

Both the boys and girls squads will be in action tonight when John Essex hosts A.L. Johnson in the official tip off of region play.

The Eagles come to call for the second time in less than a week after the school visited JEHS last Wednesday for the Pre-Thanksgiving Classic. In that affair, the John Essex girls bested ALJ 45-17.

“I’m not going to really change up much,” JEHS girls’ head coach Fentress Means said. “I don’t see a reason to change the defense. They don’t have too many ball handlers.”

After finding themselves in a tight ball game, the Lady Hornets utilized a 22-point third quarter to subdue ALJ.

“We could’ve done a little better, but we did get a little more confident,” Dondrea Johnson said. “If we can get a little confidence, maybe we’ll win all the area games.”

The girls’ first shot at accomplishing that feat comes tonight.

“We’re going to beat them again,” Brittney Gray said. “We’re getting better every practice.”

Means attributes a great deal of that improvement to his seniors.

“My captains show good leadership and talk to the girls everyday,” Means said.

The girls’ game will be followed by the boys’ game, a rematch of last week’s 63-58 Hornet triumph.

“I think they got the idea that they can play with us,” senior Zackary Fluker said of the Eagles.

JEHS hopes to establish the tempo from the outset tonight.

“We’ve got to attack them hard off the jump ball. We need to go up five to 10 points in the first quarter,” head coach Rodney Dixon said.

The biggest task for the Hornets will be slowing Kejuan McGhee, who dropped 26 points last time the teams met.

“He is an extreme talent for them. I underestimated him the first game,” Dixon said. “I’m not afraid to say that we are directing our attention toward him.”

JEHS (1-3) will be led by Fluker, who is averaging 19 points and eight assists per game. The senior earned Most Valuable Player honors at a weekend tournament at R.C. Hatch. The Hornets dropped both games in the action, 66-46 against Central-Hayneville and 76-59 against Hatch.

“Over the weekend, I think we got a whole lot better,” Dixon said.