Athletes across the state of Georgia officially hit the hardwood last week for the first time this season.
The Georgia High School Association designated Oct. 29 as the first date boys and girls basketball teams were permitted to practice.
Columbia County coaches wasted no time, jumping right in with three to five days of tryouts. With the first regular-season games scheduled to begin Nov. 19, they had no choice.
"When you have to try to dissect a kid and see what he's all about in basketball, that gets tough," Lakeside boys basketball coach Ryan Morningstar said. "We're going to have some big decisions to make this year. That's a good problem to have."
The same applies at Evans High School, where girls basketball coach Tim Whitfield said he's looking for a strong post player to bolster his varsity lineup. He had no lack of candidates when tryouts began Monday and said he hoped to have most of his decisions made by this weekend.
Those decisions include determining who to cut and who to keep on both the varsity and junior varsity rosters. It's one of the least desirable tasks of a high school coach. At times, the JV squad is the toughest to complete.
"With varsity, at least I already have an idea of what they can do," Harlem boys basketball coach Kim Chambers said. "With freshman it's harder because you haven't seen them play. When it comes down to the minor details of a kid's game, you have to watch them play."
That predicament forced Chambers to move his first round of cuts from Wednesday to Saturday. Like many coaches, he'll have to make another round of cuts when football season ends.
Chambers said at least 35 boys came out for tryouts, and that doesn't include the football players who will take their shot at a spot on the roster once Harlem's football season ends Nov. 9.
Evans boys basketball coach Kevin Kenny might wait the longest for his boys to return from the football field. Even without football players, Kenny had 40 boys attend tryouts just for the junior varsity squad.
With so many decisions to make, there is at least some relief for boys basketball coaches this year.
"One of the things that does work to our advantage is keeping a ninth-grade team. I think all four schools are going to have one this year," Chambers said. "It helps because that way we can keep some kids who may not be at the JV level just yet, but you can still work with them."
The first games in Columbia County will take place at the Columbia County Tip Off Tournament on Nov. 19-20 at Greenbrier High School.
All four Columbia County public schools are participating.
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