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Getting up off the deck

LINDEN — Joe Eatmon’s Patriots return to the floor tonight to host R.C. Hatch. The game is the first since the squad picked up its initial victory of the season last Friday over A.L. Johnson.

“It gives our guys confidence going in to play a great team,” Eatmon said of the area win over the Eagles. “The guys came into practice (Monday) excited.”

Linden had dropped its first three games of the season before picking up the 49-36 win over A.L. Johnson.

Eatmon said his team showed considerable progress in the game.

“We’re starting to execute on offense a lot better,” Eatmon said.

According to Eatmon, part of that improved execution is the team’s apparent adjustment to the game.

“They’re starting to get in basketball shape,” Eatmon said of his players, most of whom played on both sides of the ball during Linden’s deep playoff run in football.

Eatmon said the team’s adjustment is evident largely by the fact that it is starting to knock down shots.

“That’s one thing that helped us out a lot in that win,” Eatmon said. “we’ve got a lot of people we can go to for scoring. We just haven’t been hitting shots.”

In the game against A.L. Johnson, Ajalon Bruno dropped in 18 points and dished out four assists. Kendarius Goodwill complemented that effort by scoring 12 points of his own while pulling down nine rebounds.

“I think the key to us winning that game was we really executed at the end of that game,” Eatmon said.

Eatmon knows execution will be key tonight when the Patriots challenge the same R.C. Hatch team that nearly posted triple digits against them on Dec. 11.

“Last time we played R.C. Hatch, we played a little too fast,” Eatmon said. “They’re averaging 80 points and we gave up 99.”

During that 99-59 win, Eatmon’s Patriots attempted to run a high-octane offense that fed into the defending 2A state champion’s game plan.

“We’re not going to play nearly as fast,” Eatmon said of Linden’s strategy heading into tonight’s contest. Conversely, the first-year head coach’s team will also seek be more formidable on the defensive end.

“We’re looking to play better defense,” Eatmon said.

Tonight’s game with R.C. Hatch is the beginning of a three-game stretch in which LHS will step outside of its area to face a higher level of competition.

“The next three teams we’re playing are really good ball teams,” Eatmon said of Hatch, 5A opponent Demopolis and Choctaw County. “I feel like that’s the kind of schedule you need to get ready for your area play and your area tournament.”

Tonight’s game against RCH will take place following a B-team contest and a girls game. The action tips off at 5 p.m.