Pressing on: Beulah boys’ basketball looks to end 35-year drought

Published 8:30 am Saturday, December 7, 2019

The past three years have been tough on the Beulah boys’ basketball team, finishing with a combined 24-34-1 record. However, head coach Curtis Noble believes this year is going to be different.

Noble is in his fourth year at a Beulah, and he feels this is the first year the team has truly bought into his system.

“These guys that I have now, they’ve caught on with the system,” Noble said. “I don’t want to say it’s easier, but it is more rewarding because you have kids that actually have understand what you want and can carry it out.”

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Before his time at Beulah, Noble coached for more than 30 years in Georgia. Many of those teams had a similar issue as the 2019-20 Bobcats — lack of size.

On the Bobcats roster, only two players stand taller than six feet: senior Tyler Evans and junior Austin Billingsley. Noble combats that size disadvantage by running a press and trap system, meaning the Bobcats will press at the inbound and try and double the ball handler (trap) to force a quick turnover.

“We try to use what we have, and that is our quickness and speed,” Noble said.

Another way the Bobcats try to even out the size disadvantage is by getting to the free-throw line as much as possible. In its 77-58 loss to Loachapoka on Tuesday, they got to the charity stripe 17 times in the first half.

When they aren’t getting to the free-throw line in the half-court, the Bobcats try to get up a good amount of three-point shots. Noble believes once the team gets fully into a rhythm since some players missed practice because of football, his squad will start hitting shots with consistency.

Beulah also has experience, as the Bobcats have five seniors on the 10-man squad. Three of the remaining five are also juniors.

Okhari Moore is one of the team’s leaders and could be the best athlete on the roster.

“He has a nice little shot from the perimeter, and he can get into the lane,” Noble said.

Moore finished with 19 points in the team’s Tuesday game.

Jaquavion Johnson was another player Noble brought up. He is one of the Bobcats’ best defenders.

“He brings us that spark plug type of mentality, and he also has a nice little shot from the outside,” Noble said. “He’s coming along and I look for him to be a leader also.”

The ultimate goal for any team during the regular season is to reach the state playoffs. That goal is especially present for Noble and the Bobcats, as they haven’t been in the tournament in about 35 years.

“I really believe we have a chance to play into the state playoffs. That’s been my goal since I started,” Noble said. “I think we can get there this year, with them buying into what we’re trying to do and working hard.”

So far, the Bobcats are 0-3 on the year, with their narrowest defeat of seven points coming against Notasulga on Thursday.