Thursday, February 20, 2014
Mother Nature has put the North Augusta High School basketball team in a holding pattern.
The Jackets (15-4, 7-1 Region 5-AAAA) were set to wrap up their season with a home matchup against Aiken and a road tilt against Dutch Fork. The game against the Silver Foxes had probable region championship ramifications for both squads.
However, that all quickly became a secondary concern as the safety and well-being of the players, their families and the community became the top priority for head coach Al Young.
“We haven’t been able to do anything at all, and a lot of the kids are still without electricity,” Young said on Saturday. “It’s been a mess. I’m glad they are OK, though; that’s the main thing. I hope their families can stay warm, and everyone can keep together.”
The lights were still out at the high school as of Saturday, and it forced the Jackets to take their practices to Riverview Park Activities Center. The center, which had its own issues, was opened up to the team despite having limited power until Saturday afternoon.
“There’s enough light there for us to be able to go in and shoot around,” Young said. “Really I just want the kids to get their hands back on a basketball and do some things to move around a little bit. It’s been a long layoff.”
With arguably the two most important games of the Jackets’ regular season looming, Tuesday at Dutch Fork and Wednesday at home against Aiken, Young is hopeful his team will quickly get back into the right mindset.
“I think it’s good that we will get together and I’ll get a chance to talk to them,” Young said. “Hopefully we can get their minds focused back on basketball. ... They’re pretty excited about getting back and they want to play. That’s certainly understandable and we’ve just had to make sure we stay focused, and I need to make sure I emphasize that everyone is going through this, too. It’s a level playing field, and it has just been an unfortunate situation with the weather.”
The playoffs will then start on Thursday with an opponent to be determined. If the Jackets take care of business, they will be at home, but if the team stumbles, they will face tiebreaker scenarios, which may force them on the road.
Scott Rodgers is the news editor at the North Augusta Star and has been with the paper since January 2013 after previously working at the Aiken Standard. Follow him on Twitter @NAStarRodgers.