Iced out

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - MATT SMITH

Lo­cal play­ers and coaches deal with the win­ter weather as games and prac­tices are can­celed for the week.

When snow days hit the South, many stu­dents wake up ready to hit the fresh pow­der and revel in the “myth­i­cal” snow day that rears its head maybe once ev­ery four years.

For coaches, snow days elicit a dif­fer­ent kind of emo­tion – worry – as the power and con­trol they have over their pro­grams is swept out the door as the bit­ing

win­ter wind swoops in.

Lo­cal coaches around the county dealt with Win­ter Storm Leon like an un­in­vited in-law, pa­tiently wait­ing for their vis­i­tor to leave so they could get back on the hard­wood.

As the snow and ice re­cede, many teams will get back to ac­tion Fri­day night, but that doesn’t mean the storm didn’t have an im­pact, even if its stopover was fleet­ing.

“I don’t think this has ever hap­pened,” Newton var­sity boys coach Rick Ras­mussen said. “It will be our long­est pe­riod with­out prac­tice this sea­son. My kids haven’t touched a ball since Mon­day. We’ve never had three days off in a row, even dur­ing Christ­mas break. This is un­charted ter­ri­tory.”

Ras­mussen and his coach­ing col­leagues have a right to be con­cerned. With school can­celed since Tues­day af­ter­noon, teams had to resched­ule Tues­day night games and haven’t been able to prac­tice since last weekend.

The Rams were forced to re­ar­range a cru­cial re­gion con­test against Luella, post­pon­ing the game un­til Feb. 8, while Al­covy also had to resched­ule a home con­test against Love­joy.

With the end of the sea­son draw­ing near, that means that teams will have to force four or five games into a 10- day sched­ule.

“When school shuts down, we can’t play and we can’t prac­tice,” Ras­mussen said. “It’s the first time ever, in my 16 years at Newton, that we’ll play a Fri­day night and Satur­day night game back-to-back when we haven’t prac­ticed in three days.

“We’ve had snow­storms be­fore where we have had to move games around,” he said. “I know at one time we played four or five games in seven days and we ended up play­ing eight games in a two-week span. It looks like we’re head­ing into that kind of sit­u­a­tion. I don’t mind, though. We won seven out of those eight – I thought it was great.”

The Al­covy Lady Tigers face the same fate as Newton, re­turn­ing to ac­tion Satur­day af­ter hav­ing played their last game on Jan. 24.

Al­covy coach David Baker said that he ex­pects the Lady Tigers’ con­di­tion­ing to hold up at this point in the sea­son, but he hopes that the team re­turns with the same sharp­ness that has al­lowed it to win two of its last three con­tests.

“As far as how the weather is go­ing to af­fect our team, I just worry that it’s go­ing to af­fect our con­sis­tency,” Baker said.

“Con­di­tion­ing wise, we’re go­ing to be fine, but when you’re not in a game or in prac­tice, some­times you lose that crisp­ness in your passes or your con­fi­dence in your shot. We’re miss­ing days with­out drilling and with­out play­ing and that can take you out of your fo­cus.”

Baker is no stranger to the snow. A for­mer mid­dle school coach from Detroit, Baker said he’s quite use to the win­tery mix that shutout much of the re­gion this week.

“This is noth­ing new for me,” Baker said. “How much we got this week, how­ever, has been rare since I’ve been liv­ing here. We’re just ready to pick up and play and look for­ward to the end of the sea­son and reach­ing the re­gion tour­na­ment. We’re try­ing to make the best out of it right now, even with the weather.”

Newton girls var­sity bas­ket­ball coach Tif­fani John­son said the time off re­minded her of her col­lege coach and a say­ing that he preached to John­son of­ten.

“I was al­ways told in col­lege that it only takes three days to get out of shape,” John­son said. “I can hear my old col­lege coach scream­ing that now. With school be­ing can­celed due to the weather, it def­i­nitely kills any chance to prac­tice and say in shape.

“I don’t like giv­ing my play­ers too many days off,” she said. “I have had to resched­ule games in the past be­cause of weather, but I don’t re­mem­ber hav­ing to can­cel all ac­tiv­ity for three days.”

The Lady Rams were ex­pected to re­turn to the court tonight against ri­val Rock­dale County, but bad weather once again may cur­tail Newton's chances of get­ting on the court. The Lady Bull­dogs sit just 2.5 games be­hind Newton in the re­gion standings, and John­son said she hopes the Lady Rams’ ex­tra time to pre­pare comes in handy, whether its against the Lady Bull­dogs tonight or Wood­land on Satur­day.

“Hav­ing three days off and com­ing back to an im­por­tant ri­val, re­gion game will def­i­nitely be a test of will and want to,” John­son said.

“My play­ers will be watch­ing film and com­mu­ni­cat­ing with each other and coaches to stay as fo­cused as pos­si­ble. Hope­fully the ex­tra film time will give play­ers an op­por­tu­nity bet­ter rec­og­nize team and in­di­vid­ual strengths and weak­nesses. Ad­di­tion­ally, it will al­low us to iden­tify the same for our op­po­nents.”

Baker said he hopes the Lady Tigers keep a “bas­ket­ball state of mind.”

“I hope the girls are at least watch­ing bas­ket­ball,” he said.

Newton's con­test tonight against Rock­dale County has been post­poned due to in­clement weather. A make up date has not been sched­uled.

Eastside hosts ri­val Al­covy Satur­day at 5 p.m.

msmith@cov­news.com

An­thony Banks/the Cov­ing­ton News

Al­covy and Eastside re­new their bas­ket­ball rivalry this weekend, but be­fore they hit the court, both teams will have to shake off some rust af­ter a three-day break from school due to Win­ter Storm Leon.

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