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Holiday season gets true start this week

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SCHS opens basketball season

By Todd Martin

It's the most wonderful time of the year.

That's not just for the Christmas song, but also for the start of basketball season.

Colleges are under way, and as of Monday, high schools across the Commonwealth are starting to play games.

Yes, the holiday season officially starts with Thanksgiving, but for me it really begins around the middle of November, when meaningful games start tipping off.

Locally, Shelby County again looks like it could have a banner year.

Expectations are high for the Rockets coming off last season's run to the Sweet 16 semifinals.

The Rockets have as deep and versatile a junior class as any school in the state. Loaded with guards and post players, the Rockets will lean heavily on Donovan Johnson, Boomer Beckley, Cache Tomlinson, Nigel Beach and the bunch.

Seeing how the rotation will work will be fun, but the most interesting position to fill is that of leader.

There are six juniors, seven sophomores and a talented eighth-grader but not a senior on the roster.

Last year's senior class was one of the most successful senior classes at SCHS in a long time - earning a district championship in football and a state runner-up finish in baseball to go along with their basketball success.

Filling the leadership roles of Alex Matthews and Coty Minnis won't be easy, and it won't happen over night.

This year's team is probably more athletic, but it remains to be seen how it will fare when trailing as the clock ticks down in the fourth quarter.

Somebody will step up, but it may take some time.

Last year's squad went undefeated in December with a 10-0 start, but don't expect that kind of start this year.

There will be some bumps in the road. No matter how experienced a group of juniors is, they aren't as experienced as a group of seniors.

The Lady Rockets also took a big hit in graduation. After starting for four years at SCHS, Raechele Gray is now at Marshall. Add to that the other four departed seniors (Allison Morris, Karissa Nicholson, Jennica Garitty and Shanise Morton), and it looks like the Lady Rockets could be rebuilding.

The team will be very guard heavy, with just five forwards listed on the 15-player roster.

The Lady Rockets have been counted out in the district and region before, but it's not a wise move.

They might as well own the district crown, and the Shelby girls have been in the regional final six times since 2000, winning the title five times. No one has more 8th Region titles this decade than the Lady Rockets.

Yes, expectations are high again in Shelby County, and it's time to enjoy that ride until March - then you have to answer to those expectations.