A-J boys’ basketball will emphasize defense this season

The Anna-Jonesboro Community High School boys’ basketball team plans to emphasize defense in order to be successful this  season, according to A-JCHS coach Mike Chamness.

“We’ve got to do better defending than we did last year,” coach Chamness said. “We’ve got to do better than letting teams score in the 60s (points) a game. If we can hold them in the 40s and 50s we’ll have a chance to have a good season.”

The Wildcats will return three senior starters from last year’s 15-15 squad to try to build a winning team around.

The trio includes 6-4 forward Brady Wright, 6-2 guard Travis Smith and 6-2 guard Dalton Baker. Chamness said Wright and Smith are both legitimate 3-point shooting threats.

Other seniors in the mix are 5-9 guard Caleb Mixen, 5-11 guard Jarid Veronesi, 6-0 guard Jaden Ayers and 5-9 guard Cody Garver.

Due to the loss of standout point guard Cody Livesay to graduation, Chamness looks for either Mixen, Smith or Garver to handle point guard duties.

Junior Evan Hughey, a 6-3 center, will compete for playing time as well as junior Andrew Nixon, a 6-8 center transfer player from Goreville.

Sophomores that could  see varsity playing time are 6-3 foward Jay Kemp and 6-0 guard Tyler Vaughn.

Several of the football players didn’t begin practicing until last week due to the Wildcats’ deep run into the Class 3A football playoffs that didn’t conclude until Saturday, Nov. 12.

Chamness would like to make some noise in the Southern Illinois River-to-River Mississippi Division Conference race this season.

“I like our chances this year,” Chamness said. “But, I would like to play some conference games in January and February that will still mean something.”

Chamnness sees a lot of parity in the conference race. “We should be pretty balanced,” he said. “Everyone lost someone to graduation, and Pinckneyville lost a lot to graduation, but they’ll still be pretty good.”

The Wildcats open their season at the Harrisburg Tournament, which began  Monday, Nov. 28.

“It will be a good test for us,” Chamness said. “We’ll be getting our feet wet and have something to build on. Hopefully, we’ll be alright.” The tournament concludes Friday, Dec. 2.


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