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Braves set attack march for Pioneers

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By Matt Birkholtz

After a convincing victory over Dayton Dec. 4 at Grant County High School, the Braves will face a challenging Simon Kenton team Dec. 10.

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Grant County blew away the Devils 91-39 in front of the home crowd, but it still wasn’t at the expectations of coach Jim Hicks, who achieved his first victory as Grant County basketball coach.

It was certainly not the highlight of Hick’s night as he said he focuses on the bigger picture as coach of the Braves.

“It is hard to gauge,” he said about the team’s victory over Dayton. “There is such a big discrepancy between the two teams. I thought our kids played hard. We didn’t prepare a whole lot for this game.”

The Braves bounced back from a loss Nov. 30 at Oldham County, but Hicks felt that his team showed more effort in their loss, than they were able to manage against a small Dayton team.

As the team gears up for the Pioneers, Hicks would like to see more out of his team on the defensive side of the ball.

“The team has got to continue to get better defensively,” he said. “The team has got to stop breaking down so much. I know we are going to foul with the way we play, but we need to stop fouling so much and start playing smarter. We played hard at times, but I felt we played harder in the Oldham County game.”

The team shot 1-of-13 from the three-point line in the first half and Hicks saw a positive improvement in the team’s second half shooting.

“We have to start taking some better shots,” he said. “The kids have got to start settling down when they shoot the ball and we got kids that can do that.”

Sophomore guard Austin Anglin has had a good showing in the first two games for the Braves with 12.5 points per game.

Anglin shot 5-for-9 from the field against Dayton, scoring 14 points, while grabbing five rebounds.

“He went really hard in practice on Friday and it carried over to the game,” Hicks said. “I have been trying to get through to these kids that the harder you work, the better you get. Hard work pays off. Austin brings a lot to the table and the thing is, he is only a sophomore.”

Braves senior Josh Blackburn has also been putting up big numbers through the first two games averaging a double-double (18 ppg 11 rebounds per game).

Hicks said other members of the team will have to step up, because he doesn’t see Blackburn being able to maintain his current averages.

“Rebounding is going to have be done as a team,” he said. “We are going to have to have three or four guys averaging three or four rebounds a game, because we are not going to have Blackburn averaging the numbers he has right now (during the whole season).”

The game against Simon Kenton will occur six days after playing Dayton and coach Hicks is focusing on improving the team’s defense against the Pioneers.

“We are going to have to work on defense,” he said. “We broke down way too much against Oldham County and Dayton to get a win at Simon Kenton. They have a really talented basketball team and they have a lot of talented individuals. We got to a good job on them defensively, especially in our man-to-man defense.”

Hicks sees Blackburn being able to have a big game against the Pioneers due to the effort he brings in practices, something you would see a senior do in his last year of high school basketball.

“I’m not trying short sell the other players,” Hicks said. “I just think that Blackburn has put in a lot of work and effort and we are just going to have to see other guys step it up to make the team better.”

Last season the Braves were swept by the Pioneers and the Braves haven’t beaten a Simon Kenton opponent since Dec. 12, 2008, when Grant County won 56-47.

Anglin was an eighth grader the last time the Braves have defeated the Pioneers.

“We just got to go out hard on them on Dec. 10 and work on it in practice,” he said.