John Milledge Academy’s varsity basketball regular seasons have featured several highs and lows. All the while, the Trojan boys (10-10) and Trojan girls (6-12) are battling toward the region tournament next week.
Injuries and other uncontrollable circumstances damaged the Trojan girls’ regular season record. The team lost six in a row dating back to a tremendous game at Pinewood Jan. 24.
Freshman Olivia Clements scored 15 points together with 13 points from junior Hannah Miller in the seven-point loss at Pinewood.
“We just haven’t really been playing well. Our defense isn’t terrible, but our offense is struggling right now,” JMA head girls’ basketball coach Natasha Gainous said.
Clements twisted an ankle against Stratford Jan. 25, which took her out of the lineup until last Friday.
Playing without Clements proved challenging, considering she is the main post threat.
A following loss to Bulloch was a direct by-product. The team played a Box-and-1 on junior point guard Kelsey Chambers.
“We didn’t have much inside presence, so they were out crushing our guards big time,” Gainous said. “We only scored 19 points that game.”
The JMA girls adjusted at halftime to limit Bulloch to 12 points the second half.
Still void Clements and a backup point guard, JMA traveled to Westminster Feb. 4. The Trojan group lost 61-42.
“We only had four people on the bench,” Gainous said.
Clements returned in limited minutes Friday against Augusta Prep. The freshman scored 10 points and had seven rebounds.
The JMA girls lost by six points.
Gainous said a 50-43 loss Saturday at Trinity was perhaps the most complete team game in more than a month.
“They were a good team and that was the best that we’ve played,” she said. “We kind of came together.”
Chambers had nine points, eight rebounds and five assists.
Miller and Clements both scored 14 points Saturday. The junior made four 3-pointers, while the freshman grabbed nine rebounds.
Gainous is happy to have a healthy Clements back for the final home games tonight and Friday.
On the boys’ end, the Trojans beat Bulloch on the road Feb. 1, but fell into a three-game drought themselves this past week.
Westminster defeated JMA’s boys’ team 60-46 on Feb. 4. The group suffered a 12-point loss Friday night at Augusta Prep.
JMA boys’ head coach Thomas Craig said they blew an 11-point lead.
Junior forward Chase Register was out with a shoulder injury.
“We led the whole game,” Craig said. “We got to the fourth quarter and fell apart.”
Playing four complete quarters is Craig’s current mantra.
“These guys are buying in. Things are going to change,” he said. “One day we will hold on and win one.”
Saturday’s 61-58 overtime defeat came without help from Register and classmate Colby McCommon, out with the flu.
The bench guys stepped up to push Trinity.
With another win against Bulloch, the JMA boys could lock down the fourth region seed.
Register and McCommon are expected back for the regular season close.
The JMA girls are in the third region slot. Their coach isn’t worried about the record.
“When the tournament starts, it doesn’t matter,” Gainous said. “We are much better than our record shows. We need to use these last regular season games to prepare and get better.”
Craig said his players understand the meaning of the closing region battles.
“If we can get hot in these two games, it’s shaping up like it did last year when we made our run,” Craig said Monday. “Let’s get this win and then worry about Senior Night Friday and hey, we finally get a Saturday off. We are going to put four quarters together, and I hope it starts tomorrow against Bulloch.”
The JMA varsity home doubleheader versus Bulloch Academy starts at 5 p.m. tonight due to possible inclement weather.