The Valdosta State basketball teams are hitting the road again Thursday night as they travel to Spragins Hall in Huntsville, Ala. to take on the Chargers of Alabama-Huntsville.
The men’s team is currently No. 9 team in the nation, to tip off a two-game road trip.
The Blazers enter Thursday night’s contest with a 13-6 record overall and 5-6 in Gulf South Conference play after winning three of four games during their recent home stand.
Alabama-Huntsville approaches Thursday night’s home game against Blazers winners of three consecutive games and four of their last five. The Chargers are 16-3 on the season and 9-2 in the Gulf South Conference.
In the previous meeting against the Chargers at The Complex Jan. 3, the Blazers played very well for much of the second half, building a 15-point lead before the Chargers stormed back and won on a Xavier Baldwin three-pointer at the buzzer.
“I would say that we’re confident that we’ll go in there and play hard,” Mike Helfer,head coach said. “That’s one thing that our team has done the entire season.”
“We’ve gotta go [into Huntsville] with the mindset to just play our best and let the score take care of itself—if we play our best, we’ll be OK.”
While the Blazers will certainly look to make it tough on their opposition, Coach Helfer understands the threat that Huntsville presents.
“You’ve just gotta battle each possession, every second,” Helfer said. “We have to weather their storm.
“They’re gonna make some shots, they’re a great shooting team,” Helfer added. “You’ve just gotta hope that they don’t go bananas on you and if they do start making shots, try to dig a little bit deeper to get a stop here, a stop there.”
Alabama-Huntsville sharpshooter Jaime Smith will be the focal point of the Blazers’ defensive attention. Smith scored a team-high 28 points against the Blazers on Jan. 3.
“Jaime is a great, proven GSC player,” Helfer said. “We’ve just gotta try to dig our heels in and not give him anything easy and try to make sure he works for all of his points.”
The Blazers look to bounce back on the road Thursday night against the Alabama-Huntsville Chargers.
VSU women’s team is coming off a thrilling 57-56 victory against North Alabama over the weekend.
The Lady Blazers were lifted to victory by a clutch three-pointer by Britney Nelson out of a time-out with under a minute to go and tied at 54-54.
The win improved the Lady Blazers to 11-8 on the season and 4-7 in conference.
The team’s ability to execute plays out of time-outs in pressure situations has added to their success.
Alabama-Huntsville comes into the game 9-12 on the season and 6-5 in the conference.
The Chargers are led by Jasmine Hammon and Jordan Smith, who are both in the top five for scoring in the Gulf South Conference.
Hammon and Smith average 18.4 and 15.2 point per game respectively.
“Both can create their shot. Hammond to take you off the bounce in a heartbeat, and Smith can score from down-town and draw foul the easily. We’ve got to counter those kids,” Kiley Hill,head coach said of the two standouts.
After struggling against North Alabama’s 2-3 zone-defense in the second half on Saturday’s game, Coach Hill and his team are expecting to see more zone tonight against Alabama-Huntsville.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt, Huntsville plays a 3-2 matchup zone. Anybody who watches film on us will quickly go to a zone. Hopefully we’ve made some corrections, but I think we will be better prepared to attack the zone,” Coach Hill said.
The previous matchup between Valdosta-State and Alabama-Huntsville was back-and-forth all night, until the Lady Blazer’s Kourtnee Williams made the final basket of the night with less than 30 seconds left, and lifted the Lady-Blazer’s to victory.
If tonight’s game comes down to the wire like before, it might spell success for the Lady Blazers, who are 6-2 on the season in games decided by five points or less, seem to excel to in late game situations.
“It’s a credit to the players, their concentration level become greater. For our kids, our ability to hone in and do the things we’ve worked on becomes magnified there,” Coach Hill said.
The Lady Blazers play tonight at 6:30 PM, before heading to play at Shorter on Saturday to finish their two game road-trip.