The Upson-Lee boys’ basketball team began its season with a trip to Jacksonville, Fla. for games against Potter’s House Christian and Providence School. The Knights dropped both games by large margins and returned home 0-2, but the trip was about more than the scoreboard for Coach Christopher Owens’ young team.
Upson-Lee’s inexperience showed as it lost 65-28 to Providence School and 57-32 to Potter’s House Christian. The Knights were at a size disadvantage with key center TJ Searcy out due to a minor injury.
The new season sparks a lot of questions about this team. The Knights are returning with just three seniors and not much varsity experience. Owens is depending on fresh faces to make an impact.
“We are asking a collection of players to step up this year. We will be led by our three seniors and a host of juniors,” Owens explained. “Everybody must step up as Marcus Slaton and TJ are the only returning players to have significant varsity playing time under their belts.”
The junior class is going to be the make-or-break group for this team. Keyston Smith, Nemo Scott, Joshua Atwater, Jaden Weems, Kemarion Alston, and Searcy have become the core of this team after having limited playing time at the varsity level last season.
Seniors Zerek Walker, Slaton, and Jereuntay Davis will also be key components of the team. Davis is new under the Owens regime after not playing in the system the last two seasons. He offers size at the wing position and length defensively. Since Davis is still working into the system, he could be expected to be a player that takes a little time to get rolling, but he has game-changing potential when he starts to fit into the groove.
Aside from Searcy (6’ 5”, 250lbs), the Knights do not have a lot of size. In Owens’ fast-paced spread style of offense, it will be key for the Knights to create disruption on the other side of the floor.
“In order for this team to be successful, we must compete on the defensive side every possession,” said Owens. “We must be better defensively this year.”
The Knights did not get the results they were looking for in the win column over the weekend, but Owens was satisfied with the effort he saw.
“A lot of players did some good things over the weekend. We came on this trip to gain some experience and I feel that we did that,” he added. “I just wanted to see the team compete and see who would step up when needed.”
The Knights will see more familiar faces when they travel to Lamar County on Tuesday, Nov. 23 (results not available by press time), and on another road trip to Taylor County on Nov. 27.