When the Eminence High School football players were dropping like flies with all the late-season injuries, Eminence basketball coach Chris Nethery was clenching his teeth.
Secretly, I was too.
More than half of the football players finished the year injured, and with most of those players playing both sports, Nethery is left trying to put the pieces back together.
It’s typical at a school the size of Eminence, but is worse this year. Nethery described the scene as the most injuries he has had to start a basketball season.
The Warriors, along with the other three high school basketball teams in the county, tip off their seasons this week. The Eminence boys are at Monticello this Saturday at 5:30 p.m. in what will be their first time playing five-on-five.
“The last couple of years we haven’t really been able to schedule a scrimmage because of football season, and that’s really hurt us,” Nethery said. “It’s tough to know what you have until we play someone else. With the way high school football is set up, almost every team makes the playoffs. Then, you factor in time off for Thanksgiving, and it leaves us with almost no practice time before our opener. It’s tough.”
Top players Dre Banta and Bradley Foree both start the basketball season banged up. Banta broke his foot during football season, missing the final five weeks, and has not practiced with the basketball team yet. Nethery said the senior could be back on the court at any time, and they are taking it day by day.
Meanwhile, sophomore Foree is practicing but has suffered through back and knee problems this football season. And sophomore Brandon Mitchell and freshman Corenelius Sanford have both struggled with injuries, too. Another player, junior Brandon Lane, broke his ankle and is out for 11 weeks. Nethery said Lane had a “great summer of basketball” so his absence for most of the season is a huge blow to the team.
So where do the Warriors go from here?
Despite all this, practices have been going well. They travel to Monticello this Saturday, then play at Evangel Christian Tuesday at 6 p.m.
“We have young kids who are dealing with these injuries, but they have actually come together better than I thought they would,” Nethery said. “They’ve been getting after it.”
Four miles up the road, the Henry County boys’ basketball team tips off its season at Western Hills this Thursday at 7:30 p.m. And the Wildcats, led by second-year head coach Derek Springate, play at Walton-Verona on Saturday at 6:30 p.m.
The two girls’ teams open against each other this Friday at 7:30 p.m., at Eminence, in the first county showdown of the season. Henry, coached by Todd Gilley, hosts Ludlow the following night at 7:30 p.m., and Eminence, coached by Carter Martin, plays at Evangel Christian on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
By the way, the annual Henry County Local Basketball Preview section hits newsstands next Wednesday. That officially tips off the season for me, then I’ll watch as the storylines unfold.
Number one on my agenda: see how the Warriors react to all the injuries that derailed the football season. Coach Nethery is trying to keep them on track.
Tommie Kendall can be reached at (502)845-2858 or firstname.lastname@example.org.