Wildcats get students involved
by Brandon Miller
Dec 17, 2012 | 3817 views |  0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
After Oxford and Hoover played a mid-day, weekday basketball game for the Yellow Jackets’ student body last year, White Plains coach Chris Randall liked it so much he wanted to do the same for his team. And on Monday, he did.

“Going over there and watching the guys at their school, and the student body loved it and it was packed and it was fun,” Randall said about the Oxford game. “So (Woodland girls’) coach (Larry) Strain and I had the idea that we would play an in-school game this year.

“It was a big treat for the kids and it was packed. When you get to play in front of your classmates, all of them like that, it’s just special. I think we made some good memories today.”

Despite feeling a little pressure early on playing in front of their classmates, The Wildcats cruised to an 80-48 win. However, the game was bigger than just another win or loss.

It was more about building school spirit and pride, not to mention, the unbeaten Wildcats could also show how well they have been playing thus far through the season.

“It’s a good fundraiser,” Randall said, continuing to explain the benefits of the game. “The kids buy the tickets and get to come to the game, but they don’t have to, and we had a few that decided not to. But it really funds the costs that it takes to run a program and it also puts together a great atmosphere.”

As special as the game was for White Plains and its student body, Woodland will get the same experience on Jan. 7 as the Wildcats travel south down U.S. 431 to face the Bobcats. That’s also the day Alabama plays Notre Dame for the national title, Randall reminded me.

“Any time you’re building your school pride and school spirit and the relationship between your students and players, I don’t see anything wrong than that,” Randall said.

Alumni action: Heads up, Jacksonville, it’s time for another blast from the past.

Basketball coach Anthony Kingston is continuing the alumni game — which he brought from his alma mater, Tanner — for the second consecutive year. Tipoff is set for 5 p.m. on Dec. 19.

“It’s a nice, little fundraiser for us and gives everyone a chance to come back for the holidays,” he said. “It’ll be a chance to get everyone back in there and hopefully give everyone a chance to see the new guys and talk to some of them and watch us play.”

The fundraiser this year will help pay for the boys’ and girls’ Christmas tournament trips, with the boys going to Destin, Fla., and the girls going to Gadsden.

“I like our current players to meet some of our former guys,” Kingston said. “I try to encourage our guys that you’re not only representing your family, but you’re representing everybody that came along before you.”

All in a name: It’s not often you get invited to a basketball tournament because of your school’s name. And I do mean specifically because of your school’s name.

Oxford traveled west to Oxford, Miss., on Friday to face its twin as Lafayette did the same, as well, facing Lafayette, Miss.

Despite the levels of complaints due to packing that were shared via Twitter from some of the players, the Yellow Jackets handled business, sweeping the two out-of-state opponents before coming home.

“That first game when you get down there, you’re driving about four hours and playing the same day, that was a little bit of a concern for me,” coach Joel Van Meter said. “But our guys, being seniors, played with maturity and played their best game on Friday night.”

No. 1,000: If you’d like a lesson in achieving accomplishments, ask Piedmont’s BreAnna Thompson.

In the Bulldogs’ win over Ohatchee last Thursday, the senior scored her 1,000th point while at Piedmont.

“(Coach Matt Deerman) told me the game before that I only needed six more points,” Thompson explained. “I got fouled and I only needed two more points. So I just made both of my free throws.”

Despite Thursday night’s milestone, Thompson didn’t take Friday off. With more than 1,000 points under her belt in high school basketball, she signed a volleyball scholarship to Wallace State-Hanceville.

Sports Writer Brandon Miller: 256-235-3575. On Twitter @bmiller_star.