Dollarway Cardinals Head Coach James Jones is making a transition this year. Instead of running the Lady Cardinals' basketball program, he's now in charge of the boys. The Cardinals' season got underway this past week with a loss to Bearden in the first round of the Fordyce FB&T tournament.
Bearden edged Dollarway by a final of 59-34, and Jones said his guys simply looked intimidated. The lone returner for the Cardinals is senior guard Teon Johnson, who is currently serving a suspension, leaving them lean on experience.
"I think they were a little scared going in with a 10th-grade point guard and dealing with suspensions," Jones said. "Turnovers, missed layups, and kids just not used to playing with each other yet really hurt us. Our starting point guard is a sophomore, so it's going to take some time. We have about five seniors in the rotation, and a couple are starting. We're pretty evened out when it comes to our roster, as we have one ninth-grader, one 10th-grader and a mixture of juniors and seniors."
Jones spoke of sophomore point guard Terrance Brown, who finished the football season playing quarterback for the Cardinals. One of those seniors they'll look to lean on is guard Jarvis Hardnett. Hardnett led the team in scoring in their second outing, and according to Jones, he's a hard worker by nature.
"He's a quiet-mannered, disciplined guy who does the dirty work," Jones said of Hardnett. "He can slash to the hole, and he brings the intangibles of hustling and playing defense."
On Tuesday, the Cardinals played their first home game of the season against Star City, where they fell 56-43. That game wasn't part of the FB&T tournament that the Cardinals will continue to compete in this evening. Jones believes that his guys did better with some of the things they were asked to do after the Bearden game.
"We responded real well in our second ball game," Jones said. "We were improved all-around. We were more intense, enthused, and we showed more confidence."
After losing to Bearden, the Cardinals dropped to the consolation bracket, but they're guaranteed to play a total of three games. In the second game tonight against Arkadelphia, a better effort on defense is one of the key things Jones is looking for.
"We have to have a better defensive game," Jones said. "We've discussed better shot selection as well. We have to cut the turnovers down because we're averaging 16 a game. We're shooting 40 percent from the free throw line, and we have to get that up. We shot over 40 free throws in two ball games, so we can get to the hole. We have to knock those free throws down."
Dollarway and Arkadelphia are set for a 5:15 p.m. tip-off at the Fordyce FB&T tournament.