By Jeffery Armstrong
Covering last week's Region 4-AAAAA basketball tournament was a welcome respite for me. Why? It gave me a chance to see something I don't see often: good girls basketball on a regular basis.
Last year, the Riverdale Lady Raiders basketball team waltzed through the region tournament with no competition at all. This year, they played three tough games with one going into overtime and one not decided until the final seconds. That's what I'm talking about.
Not that I want Riverdale or any of my county teams to lose I just want to see good girls games consistently. Of course, there'll be blowouts here and there, but I've been covering high school sports in Georgia for three and a half years now and I could count on one hand the number of good girls basketball games I've seen. I just don't understand it.
When I was in high school in the mid-80's, girls could really play. My high school girls team didn't win titles (the other girls teams in the region were better), but they could play. They weren't like some of the teams I've recently covered. Over these three seasons or so, I've seen more girls play bad basketball than ever. If these girls aren't making bad passes, traveling with the ball or other atrocious turnovers, they are throwing up air balls or shots that hit the backboard without coming close to the rim.
Now don't get me wrong, there are some bad boys teams around, but they can at least execute the basics of the game. They can dribble and pass and make a back-door cut play. Some girls I've seen can't dribble at all or have the worst form on their shots; it's terrible.
Where have all the good girls players gone? I yearn for the days when I saw some great girls play, like Nefertiti Walker of Woodward Academy, Monica Pope of Creekside, Chanae Early of Westlake and most recently, Kirby Copeland of Morrow. Those girls could light it up and Walker had the sweetest stroke on a jumper I've ever seen. Walker probably had a better-looking shot than most boys. Now I have seen some good girls basketball players in this area and I've seen some good teams as well. But overall, I've seen more bad teams than good teams. It's just a fact. And don't forget that there is a girls team in the metro area, Cross Keys, that lost to Banneker 76-1 this season. How bad do you have to be to only score one point in an entire game?
Maybe the reason these girls teams aren't that good is because girls nowadays don't seem to concentrate solely on basketball like they used to. There aren't many girls who play basketball all day or play ball with the neighborhood boys in the parks.
These girls today also play either softball, volleyball or soccer in addition to basketball, so maybe they don't take the time to hone their basketball skills. They'll get a scholarship in another sport so maybe they feel they don't have to play basketball very well.
And I guess I can understand that. But I hope people can understand how I feel having to cover many of these bad games.
Jeffery Armstrong is a sports writer for the Daily and his column appears on Thursdays. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.