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After snow, returning to the hardwood / January 10, 2018
Following a week of wintry weather that forced the postponement of four games, the Bluestone varsity basketball team is ready to return to action.

After participating in the Halifax Basketball Classic Dec. 28-29, the team was scheduled to resume James River District action on Jan. 3 versus Goochland. But this game was cancelled as the effects of the week’s cold wave began to materialize.

Bad weather also forced the postponement of a game with Buckingham this week, but the Barons’ game with Cumberland last night was declared a go once warmer weather set in.

With temperatures forecast to be in the 60s later this week, Bluestone’s Friday home games against Randolph-Henry is also looking good.

The varsity boys have a JRD record of 4-1, and though they placed fourth at the Halifax Classic out of a four-team field, the Barons actually had fairly decent games. The team’s 4-6 overall record is reflective of the one JRD loss to Randolph Henry and non-conference losses to Park View (twice), Greensville and the two games at the Christmas tourney, to Person (N.C.) and Gretna.

But this team still has problems consistently handling some basic elements of the game — take rebounding for one. And with limited practices due to the weather, Barons’ fans may wonder if Bluestone will be ready Friday to take on a Statesmen team that handed them its only JRD loss of the season thus far.

Bluestone varsity head coach Benjamin Sizemore said not to worry: his team is ready to compete.

“When we played at Halifax what we were really focused on was using the tournament to get better for the return to district play,” Sizemore said. “We were supposed to play Goochland the Wednesday before returning to school. And wanted to get the return to the season off on the right note.”

Speaking on the teams’ performance at Halifax, Sizemore said he saw a lot of what would help the Barons become winners in the JRD, and what needed work.

In the Barons’ opener versus Person, which they lost 70-56, Sizemore said that other than a bad second quarter performance, Bluestone may have outplayed the Rockets. But he was also quick to give Person their respect due.

“Person was very good and I was surprised at their athleticism,” said Sizemore. “They were probably the most athletic we’ll see this season but we just lapsed in that second quarter.”

Even with that, Sizemore said for the most part the team played great defense and did a good job of rebounding. The consolation game versus Gretna was totally different, however.

“I really felt like we were the better team against Gretna but we didn’t play like it,” Sizemore noted. “Getting after the 50/50 ball on shots, good rebounding — just the things you need to do that we didn’t do in this game. Things we did against Person.”

And speaking to those rebounding woes, Sizemore said he knows they exist but the team is working to correct those mental breakdowns and said the Person game was a good example.

“We just need to keep working on it,” Sizemore continued. “We don’t box out well sometimes.”

Sizemore said the guards need to box out better to keep opponents from crashing the boards. And stated that sometimes the team just gets out-hustled. All things they are working on improving.

With the rematch looming Friday with R-H, Sizemore said he is looking for the Barons to compete effectively against a solid Statesmen team.

“Randolph-Henry is going to be tough; they are good,” Sizemore said. “Solid, experienced and one of the teams to beat if you want to win the district.

“I’ve told our guys if we want to be in the mix we have to be able to beat teams like Randolph-Henry and Goochland.”

The coach said he’s also continued to drive the message to his players that if they don’t play good defense, they probably won’t win.

“We can’t just be a scoring team,” said Sizemore. “We have got to play better defense overall.

“My point being that defense is the key, not our scoring, though we can do that,” he continued. “But we can’t be a team that focuses on winning because of our ability to score. That won’t work.

“Gretna shouldn’t have scored 45 points on us but they did and scored 71 to win. So yes, defense.”

As the Barons move into the thick of the JRD schedule before Conference 34 tourney pairings, Sizemore said the team is excited and ready to play.

“The kids believe they are in the mix as far as the district goes,” Sizemore said. “They feel they have a good opportunity to win and they feel they can compete with the best of them.”

Game Changes

Games originally scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 3 with Goochland have been rescheduled for:

Thursday, Jan. 18; girls’ home vs. Goochland, boys’ away at Goochland

Games originally scheduled for Friday, Jan. 5 with Buckingham have been rescheduled for:

Wednesday, Jan. 31; girls’ away at Buckingham, boys’ home vs Buckingham

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