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Claxton back on the court


CLAXTON — For the last two seasons, the Claxton boys have been building something on the basketball court. This season, they’re hoping that it can all come together.

Just a couple of seasons ago, Claxton head coach Eric Bluestein faced the task of succeeding with a program that hadn’t been to the state playoffs in over a decade. He responded, and Claxton took the 2009-10 Region 3-A championship. Last season, the Tigers stormed through the regular season, but were upset just a win shy of attaining another birth in the state tournament.

"I think that we have a lot of seasoned guys that know what it takes to win," said Bluestein. "We’ve just got a lot of guys who know that they can win and that are determined to prove it to everyone else."

Bluestein’s squad is quickly becoming a powerhouse. Last season, the Tigers entered their schedule having lost nine players from the region championship squad from the year before. Instead of struggling, Claxton hit the ground running. The Tigers notched the top spot in their sub-region before an upset in the region tournament kept them out of the state tournament.

This year, Claxton is stacked with a large amount of returning talent — all of them eager to make up for what they perceive to be a 2011 spring that was cut short.

Leading the way for the Tigers is senior point guard LaBron Glover. As a sophomore, Glover clinched the region title game with a last second put-back. Last season, Glover rose to power as one of the biggest scoring threats in the region. Now, as a senior, there is no doubt that he has the skills to be one of the most dangerous scorers in the state.

For Claxton, the best part of this season is that Glover won’t be alone in his efforts or ability.

Nine seniors highlight this season’s senior class for the Tigers. Many of them took their lumps last season while seeing their first relevant minutes in varsity competition, but are now primed to do their part and make their mark in region play.

"It’s such a help to have so many guys that have gone through the system already," said Bluestein. "These guys know what it takes. Instead of having to start at square one, we can start off by looking at opponents and how we can beat them. That’s a huge help.


Claxton girls ready to step up

Despite the success of the Claxton boys, the Lady Tigers have seen more than their share of struggles recently.

The Claxton girls haven’t been over .500 in over a decade, but this season’s squad boasts a veteran group that is hoping to reverse the trend.

Last season, the Tigers struggled to an 8-14 overall mark, but rallied to win six of their last 10 games. That improvement was exactly what head coach Laura Aziz was looking for in her girls and is something she hopes will carry over to the new season.

"We know that we play some tough teams and that we’re in a tough region, said Aziz." The important part is that we’re taking steps forward. This season, we can be a team with eight or nine players producing every game. That is something that you need in order to compete."

Heading the charge will be senior Polly Murray. The 5-foot-9 Murray has been a force for the past two seasons and figures to be a contender for Region 3-A Player of the Year this season.

Helping Murray will be a deep cast featuring fellow senior Deetra Williams and sophomore Devonna Brewton. Brittney and Whitney Ponder also rejoin the team this season and bring length and athleticism to a team that might surprise many this year.


Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.