Atkins working to develop, maintain consistency

Atkins working to develop, maintain consistency
January 14
00:00 2016
Photo by Craig T. Greenlee
Coach Ben Phillis is confident that the Camels can hold their own in the Northwest 1-A Conference this season.



So far, the JV basketball season hasn’t given Atkins a whole lot to smile about. Entering the second week of January, the Camels were 3-8 and looking to establish some continuity game in and game out.

Atkins has taken its bumps and bruises in three losses to Class 2-A Lexington. Even so, there’s reason for optimism for the remainder of the season. The Camels battled Northwest 1-A Conference rival Mount Airy from start to finish, but still ended up losing 62-58.

This team’s best moments came in December when it produced a couple of convincing wins over Class 2-A Carver. Those victories show what Atkins is capable of. Now it’s a matter to putting together consistent performances to get the desired results.

“Now that we’re getting into the conference part of our schedule, I feel like we can pretty much compete against everybody on any given night,” said coach Ben Phillis of Atkins. “But how well we play in each game will depend on whether or not we’re all there mentally. When we force turnovers, we get out [in transition] for easy buckets. That’s what we’ve been able to do in the games we’ve won.”

The Camels are propelled by a strong backcourt, which figures to get better with more game experience. Jon Haggler is the trigger at point guard and he gets ample assistance from partner Trey Baker. Thomas Hudson provides added depth.

“Guard play has been our strength and at the same time, it’s been our weakness, too,” said Phillis. “There are times when we execute our offense with sharp cuts to the basket and crisp passes and we get high-percentage shots. But on the next possession, we’ll make bad passes, which result in turnovers. We have to be strong with the ball and make good decisions.”

Although Atkins doesn’t have much inside size, there’s more than enough firepower on the roster, especially from the 3-point range. Eleven of the 12 players on the varsity roster have proven themselves as capable outside shooters.

Atkins picked up its first conference victory of the season in a 62-26 beat-down of Walkertown last Friday. The Camels turned the game into a route in the first quarter and built what proved to be an insurmountable 29-3 lead at the half. Haggler led all scorers with 19 points. Saeed Muhammad and Baker contributed 11 points apiece.

“I’m happy to get the win,” said Phillis. “Our guys need the confidence boost as we go deeper into conference play.”

Phillis understands that his team has to show immediate improvement in two key areas in order to make its presence felt in the conference. The ability to effectively rebound, while reducing turnovers, he explained, will go a long way in helping the Camels contend.

“Rebounds and turnovers, those are the key items for us,” he said. “It’s mandatory that we box-out and do a good job of getting on the boards. We’ve got to be more physical down low and minimize our turnovers.”


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Craig Greenlee

Craig Greenlee

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