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Patriots peaking at right time

LINDEN — Try as he might, Patriot head basketball coach Joe Eatmon can scarcely hide the fact that he is pleased with the direction of his team (2-5).

“We’re just getting better,” Eatmon said after a weekend in which Linden dropped a five-point nailbiter to Demopolis Saturday before pulling off a 58-55 win over Choctaw County Monday. “Our shot selection is getting better. We’re just together as a team. We’re just now starting to play pretty good basketball.”

A big part of his team’s success has been the emergence of other scoring threats like Ajalon Bruno and Andrew Rodgers, who have taken a great deal of the pressure off of the team’s primary offensive option, Kendarius Goodwill.

“It’s allowing us as a team to run our staff a little bit better because other teams can’t key so much on Kendarius,” Eatmon said.

The first-year head coach also said that Goodwill’s increased productivity appears to be the result of his ever-increasing comfort level within the team’s new system.

“Now I think he’s learning more of what I expect in terms of what is a good shot and what is not a good shot and when to take over a game,” Eatmon said.

The 1A Patriots stepped out of area and classification play to take on perennial 2A powerhouse R.C. Hatch before challenging 5A Demopolis and 3A Choctaw County over the past two weeks. Eatmon hoped the games would provide his team an better understanding of its strengths and weaknesses as it readied to return to area competition.

“The last few games have really showed us that we can play with anybody,” Eatmon said. “I think that’s going to be huge for us going into area play. It really showed us what we need to work on going into area play. These games have really showed us what we need to do ot bbe successful when it comes down to crunch time.”

Eatmon will continue to assess his team’s progress Friday night when it travels to Newbern to challenge area power Sunshine High.

“They’ve been at the top of our area for a while,” Eatmon said. “Anytime you’re facing a team like that, it can be dangerous.”

The Patriot defense will be asked to limit Sunshine’s formidable collection of athletic guards while slowing 6-foot-8-inch center Dayton Mickens.

“We’re just going to apply a lot of pressure,” Eatmon said of his team’s defensive strategy.