Derrick Hickman got a first look at his very young University Heights Academy team in live-action on Monday night and despite a 73-25 loss to Hopkins County Central, felt like his team played better than he thought they would coming into the night.
“First game with six practices and none of our kids have really played (varsity) before — I’ll take it,” he said. “We played better than I expected. Amaryia Bass stepped up. She impressed me the most. Brittyn Northington played well.”
The Lady Storm took advantage of a very young Lady Blazer squad early on, opening the game on a 26-3 run. While Hop Central continued to pull away throughout the rest of the game, UHA settled in a little after the slow start.
After allowing 53 points in the first half, the Lady Blazers only gave up 20 in the second half.
Hickman said the nerves were evident early on as every player that entered the game hadn’t really played significant varsity minutes prior to Monday night.
“If you saw them in the second half, we played better,” Hickman said. “The first six minutes of the second half, we played good. What happens is we play well for about six minutes and then we get tired. When we get tired our decision-making just goes out the door. We’ve got to get into better shape, which comes with just playing. It’s too late to get into shape now.”
Hickman and the Lady Blazers are in the process fo rebuilding the program after eight seniors departed from last year’s team. He knows he is going to have to be patient with his group. Overall he was happy to see the effort on Monday and found some things to continue to work on throughout the rest of the season.
“What I did see was that they tried hard,” Hickman said. “Our decision making; our basketball IQ has got to get better. We’ve just got to work on our passing and get into better shape. We only had six practices.
“We practiced a week then the COVID shutdown happened. We came back to practice, then one of my girl’s parents had it and she got it, so we had to shut down for another 10 days. With a young team, we’ve just got to practice more and work a little harder.”
There isn’t much time to rest for the Lady Blazers, as they have to hit the floor again tonight against Christan County to kick off Eighth District play.
The second-year coach said he hopes to see a little more confidence from his team from here on out.
“I just want to see them show some confidence — just believe in themselves,” he said. “A lot of them just don’t believe in themselves. We need a good game. If we play good and get a little confidence, I think we’ll be fine. We’re going to take it game by game and day by day. I do believe we’ll be better by the time we draw for districts.”
County and UHA will begin at 6 p.m. in Blazer Gym.
HOPKINS CENTRAL 72, UHA 25
HCC: 34 19 10 10 — 73
UHA: 1 2 5 6 2 — 25
UHA: Amaryia Bass: 9 points, Brittyn Northington: 8 points, Breanna Daniel: 5 points, Alecia Davis: 2 points, Vallie Smith: 1 point