Hornets ready to return to floor

Published 6:33 pm Friday, January 2, 2009

John Essex has had nearly a week to lick its wounds since dropping three games by 20 points or more last weekend against a higher classification of schools.

“We had a long weekend,” Dixon said. “We had three games in four days and I know my guys got tired.”

Dixon’s Hornets struggled frequently against high-pressure defenses such as the one that spurred Dallas County to a 16-0 run in the third quarter of the Dec. 26 game.

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That run outpaced JEHS, which had previously battled to a 33-32 deficit.

“We need a little endurance,” Dixon said. “That’s what this whole weekend showed us.”

Dixon said his team focused largely on conditioning when it practiced earlier this week, a decision he believes will have positive long-term effects.

“We need more endurance in the fourth quarter,” Dixon stated plainly.

Dixon also said he was encouraged by his team’s attitude following the weekend struggles.

“Playing these big schools hurt us as far as wins and losses. Basically, you know the guys came back in and accepted we got beat in the games. We knew the caliber of competition we were playing,” Dixon said. “They didn’t walk around with their heads down.”

The Hornets also reportedly focused a great deal of energy on breaking press defenses.

“We were ready (to work against the press) before,” Dixon said. “I just had the wrong guys trying to bring the ball up.”

Dixon explained that he anticipates seeing a marked improvement from the Hornets when they return to the floor Jan. 9 against Sweet Water.

“Hopefully somebody will press us because now we’re ready,” Dixon said. “Our offense is good. I’m comfortable with our offense against anybody.”

Dixon said that he believes his team will improve as a result of the stretch of games it played against teams such as Demopolis, Dallas County and Francis Marion.

“We did come out of it with something positive,” Dixon said.

He also believes many of the mistakes his team made last weekend are not indicative of its ability, but rather of the level of competition it was facing.

“Whenever they play out of the classification, it seems like it shows up on the court,” Dixon, whose team has lost only one game against a 1A foe this season, said.

The first-year head coach also expressed that the near two-week layoff the team gets between its loss to Demopolis and its next game against Sweet Water is a blessing as the squad is attempting to recover from a series of injuries.

“We are kind of bruised up,” Dixon said.

John Essex has seven games remaining on its regular season schedule.