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Close-knit Ola meeting expectations

Special Photo
The Ola boys basketball team share their goals for the season during a preseason “team unity” bonfire held at the school.

Special Photo The Ola boys basketball team share their goals for the season during a preseason “team unity” bonfire held at the school.

At the beginning of the season, Ola boys basketball coach Curt Miller wrote three goals the players had for the team.

At the conclusion of the day during preseason practice, chairs were placed outside in a circle with a small fire burning in the middle. Each player had to stand, read their expectations and then place it in the fire.

Miller collected the ashes and placed them in a ceramic bowl with the inscription, “Ola kicking ashes” on the outside.

So far, this group has been meeting the high expectations they have set.

Entering tonight’s game at Woodland, the Mustangs are one win away from tying the most victories in a single season. Ola is 10-7 heading into the 7:30 p.m. Region 3-AAAA, Div. A contest.

Miller says team unity has been the key this season.

“This is one of the closest group of kids that I’ve coached,” Miller said. “They really like each other. We are like a family this year.”

Forest Park girls: The Lady Panthers survived a scare from Mundy’s Mill on Friday, but hit some key free throws in the closing seconds for the win. It was the team’s 28th straight region victory.

Coach Steven Cole said the team is learning to play without starting point guard Kayla Potts, who sustained a season-ending knee injury during the Christmas break.

Cole’s daughter, Ashlee, has moved to the point guard spot. The team is also getting some quality minutes from senior Cydni Bivins and junior Raven Wynn.

“We are just pushing through this,” Bivins said following Friday’s win over Mundy’s Mill.

Luella girls: Since a two-point loss to Dutchtown, the Lady Lions have rolled off seven straight wins. Luella is 11-3 overall and 3-1 in the region, heading into today’s matchup with M.L.King, which is winless in the region.

“It has been a total team effort by everybody,” Luella coach Eddie Pratt said. “We are getting a good effort from everyone. They are working hard each day in practice. It is a beautiful thing to see this all working together.”

The Lions start as many as four seniors, so Pratt said that leadership is never a problem.

He has been most pleased with the effort he gets from his inside players in Shantay Baldwin and Brianna Moore.

“Everybody on the team is playing their role,” Pratt said.

Luella boys: The Lions begin a tough stretch in their schedule this week.

Luella is currently tied with M.L. King for second place in Region 2-AAAAA behind Westlake. So tonight’s matchup against M.L. King is huge in the region standings as both teams are 3-1 in the league, each losing to Westlake.

The loss to Westlake is the only blemish on the record of the Lions, who have 13 wins — two shy of tying the most in a single-season in school history. Luella has won five straight coming into tonight’s game.

Following today’s game against M.L. King, the Lions take on Langston Hughes on Friday and Newton on Jan. 17. Newton, the defending region champion, lost in the state quarterfinals last season.

TUESDAY’S GAMES

All girls games start at 6 p.m. with the boys to follow.

M.L.King at Luella

North Clayton at Lovejoy

Banneker at Mundy’s Mill

Forest Park at Mount Zion

Morrow at Tri-Cities

Jonesboro at Riverdale

Ola at Woodland

Jackson at Eagle’s Landing

Drew at Sandy Creek

Spalding at Henry County

Strong Rock at First Presbyterian

SACA at ELCA