Lone Grove girls basketball turning to new faces this season

Beau Bearden
bbearden@gannett.com

It’s safe to say no one knows what will happen with the upcoming basketball season, especially with COVID-19 numbers increasing across the United States.

The Lone Grove High School girls basketball team is aware of the situation and decided to take the safer route by not practicing until the end of December.

“We’ve got quite a few practices in, but COVID has obviously been a major concern with us here,” said Lady Horns head coach Sam Hale. “Recently with the numbers rising, we’ve decided out of precaution, to stay out (of the gym) until Nov. 30. That definitely is going to help.”

The break from practicing could have put Lone Grove behind with a season-opener scheduled for Dec. 1, but that game with Byng has been postponed. Now the Lady Horns will kick off the 2020-21 campaign against Wilson at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 8.

“It’s a tough year on coaches to try and figure out what you have to do, but it’s also tough on the kids because you want to develop that consistency,” Hale said. “Like everyone else is doing, we’re telling the kids to try and stay healthy, follow precautions and do things like that. They’re doing as good of a job as they can do.”

And it’s mostly a new group as Lone Grove returns just a few starters from a year ago after graduating a number of seniors off a squad that went 14-12 overall.

Hale expects a couple of freshmen to be in the mix for playing time as the Lady Horns welcome some new faces.

“There will be girls who will step into different spots,” Hale said. “You won’t be a player who’s on the bench anymore, you may be out there starting for us and playing a majority of the game. We’ll just have to grow up a bit more and mature as the season goes on.”

Lone Grove will also have to be prepared for some games being canceled. That’s already the case for a tournament in Antlers on Dec. 10-12. Only time will tell what happens, but for now, the Lady Horns hold out hope that they’ll kick off Class 4A action against Sulphur at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 5.

“Obviously, our schedule is very tough with the teams we have in conference,” Hale said. “Night in, night out, you don’t have anyone that you can just show up and say you’re going to beat that team. Everybody is tough. We definitely have our work cut out for us, but I think the girls are ready for the challenge and we’ll just go see what we can do.”

At the end of the day though, just getting on the floor will be a step in the right direction.

“We’re definitely looking forward to that very first game,” Hale said. “All of them are important, but if we can get that one in right there, that’s a huge step for all of us. Just to play a game.”