McKinney enters senior season

Eunique McKinney (3) is one of five seniors returning to Childersburg for the 2019-20 basketball season.

Three months removed from a postseason run that saw Childersburg High School’s girls basketball team reach the Class 4A Final Four, the Lady Tigers will host their first playdate of the summer Monday.

Childersburg, Talladega County Central, Talladega, Calera, Mortimer Jordan, Opelika, Gadsden City and Hoover will all participate in the exhibition, which will feature 13 total matchups.

Lady Tigers head coach Gavin King said he’s excited to see how his older and younger players respond after getting some practice in leading up to the playdate.

“We’ve got a lot of girls back that were on our team last year, but we’ve got some new faces, too,” King said. “We’ve got a few younger girls that haven’t played varsity before and we’ve got a couple of girls that go to our middle school that are also going to be playing with us.

“Although we’ve got some familiar faces back, we’re really going to be a completely different team. We’re going to have to figure out what our strengths and weaknesses are going to be for this season.”

Childersburg will face Calera at 11:30 a.m., Hoover at 2 p.m., Opelika at 5:20 and Gadsden City at 7. Each of the Lady Tigers’ opponents are in a higher classification, and King said playing elite competition will test his squad and its five seniors.

“This summer, we’ve got a lot of practices, but I wanted to play as many games as possible against some of the best teams in the state to really push some of the older girls,” King said. “We wanted to play as many teams (as we could) that we won’t see in the regular season who are probably bigger, taller and faster than we are just to keep pushing the girls all summer.

“I kind of want to just challenge our team to play their best ball because the teams we’re playing Monday and throughout the summer -- if we don’t bring it, things will get pretty ugly.”

King said the playdate format for each game would be two 20-minute halves with a running clock until the last minute of the second half, and the clock will stop on fouls, free throws and if the ball goes out of bounds. On shooting fouls, teams will shoot one free throw and receive credit for two if successful.

Talladega will face Hoover (9:50 a.m.), Gadsden City (1:10 p.m.) and Calera (3:40), while TC Central will battle Calera (9 a.m.), Hoover (10:40 a.m.) and Opelika (2:50 p.m.).

“I know both of those teams (Talladega and TC Central) have pretty much everybody coming back, so I know they’re going to be even better,” King said. “So when I got with them on these playdates, they wanted to play the same type of competition that we did.

“As far as Talladega County goes, the girls basketball is going to be a step up from last year because everyone has a lot of girls returning.”

Lady Fighting Tigers head coach Robert Duncan said his young but talented group is in a position to make a deep postseason run.

“We’re bringing back a very experienced group, and I think it’s going to do us well to play against some of the elite competition from around the state of Alabama in the Childersburg playdate,” he said. “I know those two (Hoover and Opelika) will be great competition. We just look to get some work in and just try to get a little bit better. We’ve got a lot of expectations for the upcoming season, so we just want to try to get a few games of quality work in (this summer).”