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Lady Patriots enter season focused on goals

Brandon Matthews and the Pike Liberal Arts Lady Patriots began their season with a win over Macon-East earlier this week. The Patriots hope it’s a sign of things to come as they aim to make a return trip to Montgomery and play for a state championship.

“Really excited for the season,” Matthews said. “This group has a ton of potential. I expect some craziness and some form of adversity. I’m excited to kind of meet that too. Excited all the way around.”

The Lady Patriots made it all the way to the Final Four a season ago. After falling to Glenwood, the Patriots are focused on meeting their goals this season.

“I know that I really like how our culture is when it comes to our focus from our returners and even from underclassmen,” Matthews said. “We have a great energy and a great focus about us. I can sense they have a desire to compete and pursue excellence.”

The Patriots will have a new-look roster this season. In the early going, Matthews believes his team has done a good job of coming together.

“Extremely pleased with how they have meshed together,” Matthews said. “We had a team event last week and all the girls acknowledged how close they have gotten so quickly. Everybody on our team has bought into our vision and our core values. I expect them to see fruit because of that.”

Matthews believes he has a team with more speed than they had last year. More importantly, he believes he has a team that will be tough.

“I expect us to be really tough,” Matthews said. “That’s kind of the staple of who we want to be. We are going to be really well conditioned. We are similar to last year, but we are a little different too. We have overall a little more speed. I think we will play really good defense and be tough.”

Matthews will have his team run the floor this year to try and get points in transition.

After an up and down start to their season last year, the Patriots flipped the script in the second half and became hard to beat down the stretch. This season, the Patriots hope to be as successful at a more consistent level.

“Those girls overachieved last year and it was because of their leadership,” Matthews said. “They started to see some fruit from their hard work probably around late December or early January. When they started to see the fruit something really clicked for them. This year I anticipate us to bring that same type of consistency all year. We start every day 0-0. Our goal, whether it be a practice or a game, we want to pursue excellence. I have seen that thus far. We want to be consistent all year, and every single day.”

With the girls program making it to the Final Four and the boys making it to the championship, the excitement level for Patriot basketball continues to grow.

“The expectations are certainly there,” Matthews said. “Coach Ponder left, but he did an awesome job building up that boys program. Matt Brown is taking over for them. I think Matt has serious potential to continue to move that program forward. The girls they had success as well. Basketball at Pike is no longer a place filler between football and baseball and softball. We take it seriously and we are trying to build a successful program.”

The Lady Patriots will be back in action on Monday when they travel to Dothan to take on the Wiregrass Kings.