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Lizi Arbogast / The Outlook Reeltown's Eric Shaw returns this season after missing last year with a torn ACL. Shaw was the Outlook Player of the Year when he was a sophomore.

The focus around Reeltown for the last several weeks has been the football team’s run to the state championship. Despite that, though, there are still more sports to be played and the basketball show must go on.

After rescheduling the first handful of games, Reeltown’s basketball team officially hit the floor Tuesday night at Montgomery Catholic.

“Having to reschedule games because of football is a good situation to be in because you know your football team is doing well,” Rebel girls coach Will Solomon said. “It’s been tough on me but we’ve still been able to practice and that’s my job. Other teams have played some games and got some experience, but I’ll put it this way: We’re in as good a shape as we can be. The girls have really done a good job of understanding the situation and still getting themselves ready to play.” 

Both Solomon and boys coach Jonathan Gardner are on the Rebel football coaching staff; several of the Reeltown girls are student trainers for the football team; and the entire Rebel boys basketball roster is made up of football players.

“We had our first practice with everybody (Sunday night),” Gardner said. “We probably won’t be playing good basketball until January because we are just body sore from football. But we only play one area game till then and that’s Friday (against Fayetteville), so I think we’ll be all right.” 

Inconsistency proved to be the downfall for Reeltown’s girls basketball team Tuesday night in its season opener against Montgomery Catholic. The Rebels outscored the Knights in the second and fourth quarters but managed only single figures in the other two, resulting in a 48-43 loss.

Kenzie Hornsby led the Reeltown offense with 12 points while Taniya Haynes and Makayla Langston each contributed eight. Langston was two points shy of a double-double as she grabbed 14 rebounds off the glass, including nine on the defensive side. 

Diyanna Newton also added five rebounds and Haynes grabbed four boards and had three blocks.

Reeltown’s boys team went up against a buzzsaw in Montgomery Catholic, which is now on a five-game win streak after its 68-35 win over the Rebels on Tuesday.

“We’re just trying to get back in the flow of things,” Gardner said. “We gotta find ourselves and know what our strengths are and what we can and cannot do. That’s going to come with time and playing with each other.”

Logan Hunt paced the Rebels with 14 points while Tre Tre Hughley had four assists.

Reeltown’s boys team was hindered by missing Eric Shaw the first week of games. Shaw, who was the Record Boys Basketball Player of the Year as a sophomore and is coming back from an ACL injury last year, was selected to play in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game Saturday. So he’ll be away from the basketball team until at least then.

But Reeltown will soon see his resurgence and will rely on him heavily for his scoring. Shaw averaged 20.9 points per game as a sophomore.

Hughley made his return at point guard after missing last season with a knee injury suffered during football.

“I expect Tre Tre to be my floor general and (Shaw) is going to do what he does,” Gardner said. “We are really going to be all right with those two coming back. It really hurt with them not being there last season, but they know what I expect and they’re ready to play.” 

Hunt and Rhasheed Wilson are also taking up starting guard positions and Gardner expects Marcus Haynes to be a starting forward/guard as just a sophomore. Logan Lee is struggling with a shoulder injury but should be a big contributor off the bench as well as Scooter Brooks and Johnny Brown.

“We’re very athletic,” Gardner said. “We want to have a fast-paced game but also be able to control the turnovers.” 

As for the girls, Reeltown returns a lot of experience after having a ton of success a year ago. Taniya Haynes returns as the starting point guard, and Eryn Wells and Diyanna Newton are also returning for their senior seasons. Wells will be more of a shooting guard this season while Newton will play forward.

Solomon is also expecting big things from Makayla Langston at forward; she came on strong as a freshman and should continue down that path of success.

“The biggest thing for her is to build on what she established last year,” Solomon said. “The rebounding, I think, comes more natural than scoring, so we’re going to look to her to get more points in the paint than just rebounding points. We really want her to post up and score more.” 

Kenzie Hornsby will take up the final starting guard position. Nyla Hayden and Katie Hammond should both get good time off the bench at forward, and Lashantiss Harris will play guard. Solomon said he also has several freshmen who have shown a lot of potential.

“Our strength is definitely going to be our experience,” Solomon said. “We have several girls that have started since eighth grade. I’m hoping that they’ll mentor the freshmen we have coming up and by midseason we’ll have a lot of depth and experience.” 

Lizi Arbogast is the sports editor at Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.