Eufaula head girls’ basketball coach Jermieke Cliatt summed up his team’s summer:
“The Eufaula Lady Tigers started off the summer with only few days of practicing before playing nearly a regular-season schedule of games in the AHSAA-allowed participation days for summer competition.
“I was really impressed how we competed and played against some of the top teams in the state. I told my girls that we will start the summer 0-0 and we would end the summer 0-0, putting emphasis on it’s not about wins and losses in the summer, it’s about competing, learning, and improving as a team and individual.
“We attended Troy University Team Camp and Auburn University team camp. It’s always good when you can take your kids and expose them to college campuses and how college life works when you are an athlete. They were able to tour the campus, visit dining halls, and tour the athletic facilities. For some of the younger girls, it was there first time being on a college campus. That was huge for us. At Troy University, our varsity girls competed against West Florida, Georgia schools , and Charles Henderson, and we went undefeated against all of them and were also the Situational Tournament Champions at the camp.
“Our JV girls beat Love Handles Fire and lost to McAdory. At Auburn University, our varsity girls played North Cobb of Georgia, Sidney Lanier, and Spanish Fort. We started the day off slow but picked it up as the day went on and we eventually started playing at a more competitive level. The JV girls played really well at Auburn as well. Our varsity girls also traveled to Birmingham to participate at Hoover High School play date. We played against three really good basketball teams. Two of the three are defending state champions which are Central Tuscaloosa and Hazel Green.
“We beat Central Tuscaloosa and lost a very good game to 6A defending state champs Hazel Green. We also lost to a very athletic and aggressive Ramsay team. I believe we were just intimated by them in the first half, but we picked it up the second half.
“The Lady Tigers also hosted three play dates in Eufaula, one each week, with the last play date being the most difficult playing against 7A defending state champs Hoover High and 7A Final Four team Auburn High School. I must say we played very aggressive against both teams and we executed good at times. We knew we would be outsized and the underdog but it didn’t stop us from competing and playing with heart. We lost a tough game to Hoover and defeated Auburn. I feel like if we can compete against one of the best in the state, we can compete against anyone.
“We had to play a lot of games this summer competing against those type team and we weren’t afraid. Other teams that we traveled to or we played against in Eufaula where Enterprise, Florala, Hardaway (Georgia), Kendrick (Georgia), Carroll, Abbeville, Quitman County (Georgia), Marbury, Wetumpka, Montgomery Academy, and Lafayette.
“We know we have work to do and some areas to improve in, but we also know we got better this summer. I love the effort, time, and commitment these girls put in this summer. We still have to tweak some things on the offense end and we will get better defending the ball so that defense will be our identity. We will focus on being consistent in our play no matter who we are playing. We will spend the rest of summer and July weightlifting and conditioning and improving as individual players. At the end of the summer, I will evaluate each player on film from competition games and individual workouts to determine our final roster for the upcoming season.
“The girls and I are excited about the upcoming season and we know we have some unfinished business, failing to reach our goal last year. Our goal is to win a state championship and we will outwork everybody, improve every day, and do whatever it takes in order to reach that goal.”