The Cleburne County girls’ basketball teams will host a play date Friday to close out the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s approved summer practice and play date period for basketball. In addition to Cleburne County, the varsity competition will have B.B. Comer, Weaver and Woodland. The junior high group also includes B.B. Comer, Piedmont and Weaver.

Cleburne County varsity head coach Todd Gable said Tuesday evening that the 2017-18 varsity team will have 10 players when it’s at full strength. The seniors are guard Alex Casey, wing Tatiana Ervin and post Chelsea Parker. Parker recently underwent surgery to repair an injury and is not expected to be available until after the Christmas break ends.

Abby Lee, the lone sophomore last year, returns for her junior season. Briana Roberts, another junior, has returned to the basketball program after playing previously in junior high. There will be no sophomores this season.

Haven Freeman and Olivia McDaniel played on the varsity last season as eighth graders and return as freshmen. Kendall Houston, Micha Pentacost and Alisia Persons are also freshmen. Eighth-grader Brooklyn McDaniel is slated to play with the varsity, too.

 Friday’s play date games will be the first for the Tigers. Gable said he “wanted to do a lot more skill work because we were going to be so young.”

Because of the large gap in age and experience level from the youngest to the oldest player, team chemistry was also a concern for Gable. That worry seems to have faded away.

“This group has real good chemistry,” Gable noted. “I was worried because it’s such a mixture of young ones and a few old ones but the chemistry is real good. Alex and Tat are doing a real good job of leading and the younger ones respond well to them.”

Gable doesn’t expect the 2017-18 Tigers will have a go-to scorer which means everyone will have to contribute on offense.

“We ran the floor real well,” Gable said of Tuesday’s practice. “These young girls they want to get out and get ahead and they want the ball in transition and I like it. That’s exciting to see. I hope I see more of that Friday.”         

What else will Gable be watching?

“I want to see how well we can run an offense, how well they jell together,” he said. “I’m always looking defensively because I tell them they’ve got to play good defense if they’re going to play.”