The 6A Northview High School Cougars (4-6) will look for a positive springboard heading into the new year this Tuesday night when they face the 5A Rehobeth High School Cougars (5-7) in the first round of the Fifth Annual Downtown Dothan Hoops Classic. Tipoff from the Dothan Civic Center is set for 6:30 p.m.
The winner of the Northview-Rehobeth game will take on the survivor of the Wicksburg-Slocomb contest in Wednesday’s quarter-finals at the same time.
The two teams have not faced each other this season.
The young Cougars under second-year coach Janasky Fleming is looking for another good performance in this year’s tournament to finish strong in Class 6A, Area 5 with Enterprise and Dothan. Northview won a share of the regular-season area title before falling to Enterprise in the elimination game last year.
Fleming said win or lose the tournament will be a positive thing for his rebuilding program.
“I think it is important for us,” Fleming said. “Last year, it helped us in area play after Christmas. I look for it to do the same thing.”
Despite Enterprise’s 2-0 start (8-3 overall) in area play, Fleming said the area race is far from over. The Wildcats must come to Dothan to face Northview and Dothan in huge area games next month.
The Cougars are coming off a 57-49 setback to Central-Phenix City in the championship game of the Northview Christmas Tournament Wednesday night.
Fleming said he strongly believes the Cougars are still starting to show great improvement despite their 4-6 record. Central reached the South Regionals in Mobile last year.
“To play as close as we did, that was pretty good,” Fleming said. “We’ve held our last three opponents to less than 70 points. I feel like our defense is improving. We push the ball up and down the court. People are going to score. But I feel like the communication has improved. I feel like our awareness of where the ball is has improved. I think the communication has improved. As a whole, I feel like the team has improved in some areas. But we’ve still got to improve on establishing the post.”
Point guards Jalen Harris and Marquez White spark the offense and defense for the Cougars.
Meanwhile, the Rebels will look to rely on the strong inside play of seniors Zaccheus Watford and Antonio Debose against Northview’s athletic but smaller frontline.
Fleming said to key for the Cougars’ offensively is make Watford work on defense.
“I think we have to make him play defense,” Fleming said. “We like to make him get more fouls. We’re going to have to make him play open court and wear him down.”
However, Fleming the Cougars must find a way to score points against a variety of defenses against the Rebels.
“I’ve known Coach Easterwood for a long time,” Fleming said. “His teams always challenge other teams. I look for them to mix it up. He does a really good job of teaching multiple defenses. He gets the most out of his kids.”
The tournament will begin on Monday at 3:30 p.m. with Dale County taking on Malone. The other three games on Monday are Ashford against Daleville (5 p.m.), Dothan taking on Headland (6:30 p.m.) and Providence Christian facing Geneva at 8 p.m.
Tuesday’s other games are Houston County facing Eufaula and Houston Academy going up against Barbour County at 8 p.m.
Northview Christmas Tournament results
title game: Central-Phenix City 57, Northview 49
3rd place: Leroy over Carroll-Ozark
5th place: Charles Henderson over Tallassee
championship: Central-Phenix City over Graceville (Fla.)
3rd place: Carroll-Ozark over Northview
5th place: Providence Christian School over Pike County
7th place: Charles Henderson over Rehobeth