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Panthers seeking strong summer opponents

The Georgiana Panthers varsity boys basketball team is one of the most adept teams in Class 1A at finding and exploiting weaknesses of opposing teams.

But this summer, they’ll be in search of their own.

The Panthers have been busy this summer facing opponents from Class 1A to Class 7A and everything in between in pursuit of improvement.

And, according to Georgiana head basketball coach Kirk Norris, they’ve mostly found it.

Two weeks ago, at the start of a planned three-week training session, the Panthers began facing a number of teams both foreign and familiar.

The list of opponents includes some recurring faces from regular season play, including Highland Home and T.R. Miller.

But there were a number of new opponents thrown in the mix, such as Cottage Hill (Class 3A) Rehobeth (Class 5A) and two Class 7A giants in Alma Bryant and Theodore.

“We won all of our games two weeks ago,” Norris said. 

“The two teams that have beaten us so far were 7A schools.  We’re playing OK, but we’ve got a lot to work on.  We should’ve won both of those games.  Alma Bryant ended up beating us by 8, but it was a 1-point game with 2 minutes left.

We’ve got a lot of stuff that we didn’t do right that we need to work on, and if we’d done them right then we probably would’ve won both of those games.”

Ultimately, for Georgiana, winning has taken a backseat to ensuring that each player improves throughout the course of the summer.

With that in mind, the Panthers’ approach to summer differs quite a bit from its style during the regular season.  The team is less selective when it comes to playcalling and game planning, and games become more of an opportunity to take chances and try new strategies.

“You always get everyone a chance to play,” Norris added. “Some guys’ minutes may be limited in the regular season, but during the summer you give everyone a chance to show what they can do.

“And there’s not a whole lot of game planning involved. When the season starts, we’ll get a game plan of what we’ll do, and then we’ll get a feel for what the other team does on offense and defense.  In the summer, we really don’t do that. It’s just basically guys getting some experience playing.  You’re doing a lot of the same stuff you’d be doing during the regular season, but not as much.  A lot of it is just getting playing experience.

“You always want to win, but you also want to try to improve and work on the things that are going to make you better.  And playing teams like that will help you see what your weaknesses are.”

The Panthers will conclude their three-week summer camp Friday and Saturday with a slate of games against teams from across the state at Auburn University’s annual basketball camp.