‘Build something special here’

Published 4:11 pm Thursday, January 3, 2019

Prince Edward County High School’s varsity boys basketball team finished as runner-up in the recent Cumberland County High School Boys Holiday Tournament, and there is evidence to suggest the best is yet to come for the Eagles.

The team went 1-1 in the tourney, edging Monticello High School 45-43 on Dec. 27 and then falling 52-42 to the host Dukes in the title game Dec. 28.

Speaking shortly after the title game, Eagles Head Coach Michael Jackson Jr. gave an appraisal of his team’s play in the tournament: “From what we’ve done these last two weeks, not that bad. From the snow to having break, (it’s) kind of pushed us off, practice-wise. We’ve only practiced once since Dec. 19, so a lot of guys are out of shape.”

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He noted that Prince Edward was missing three players. Juniors Justin Sprague and Christopher Hicks were out of town during the holiday break and junior Jair Haskins has been sidelined by injury since the beginning of the season.

“We lost Abraham Braxton to an ankle injury in the game today too, so I’m praying for the best,” Jackson said of the senior big man. “(I) hope it’s only a sprain, (that) he can get back into action fairly soon.”

Emerging as a key big man for the Eagles during the Cumberland event was senior A.J. Lewis. He led them in scoring in both games and was named to the all-tournament team.

“These (were) his first two games back,” Jackson said. “He wasn’t with us for the first part of the season, but he’s a part of us now, so we’re glad to have him here.”

Reflecting on what Lewis gives Prince Edward on the court, the coach said, “He brings a lot of physicality, basketball smarts, as well. He has a high IQ with basketball. I also think that he fills a void for the big man presence that we’re missing right now. So, with him, we get Chris Hicks back and hopefully Abraham Braxton back, we can have a good trio of big men.”

Joining Lewis as a standout during the holiday tournament was Eagles junior John Pride III.

“John has missed a few days with injuries and sickness, and he came out to the tournament this week and played strong and played with a lot of energy, and I think he lifted the other guys defensively, as well,” Jackson said.

The Eagles’ 1-1 showing in the tourney put their overall record for this season at 2-4.

Asked how he feels about that record six games into the season, Jackson said, “I’m not worried at all. This is a new year, new transition. We’re still getting the guys transitioned from legendary Coach (James) Scott, so it’s big shoes to fill there. … It’s a growing year; that’s what it is. And we’re going to work hard every day in practice, each game, and get better and build something special here.”

Prince Edward hosted Central Lunenburg High School on Wednesday and visits Nottoway High School on Friday at 7 p.m.