Forward Jessie Edwards fell to the floor and lay motionless after colliding with a gym wall. Luckily he was not unconscious; he was acting.
Senior Anthony Johnson mockingly rushed to his teammate and checked his pulse. Johnson then dragged Edwards off the court by his ankles. Across the floor, coach Lynn Allen could not keep from laughing.
“There’s nothing wrong with having fun in practice,” Allen said. “It’s not always like this, but this late in the year sometimes it’s nice to have a little fun.”
Practices on the eve of the regional tournament usually are not supposed to be fun, but the Douglass basketball team tends to do things unconventionally. It also tends to win.
Douglass (17-6) boasts one of the most electrifying offenses in the region. The athleticism of seniors Andre Burgess, Terry Shipley and Johnson propels the Bulldogs’ fast-paced transitional game that many schools have struggled to defend.
“We’ve got probably the most talented kids in town athletically,” Allen said. “But so much of basketball is mental and we’re still working on that. They haven’t even scratched the surface of what they can do.”
The Bulldogs have big expectations for the postseason, which begins at 8 tonight against Fayette (12-12) in the first round of the Class 2 District 7 tournament in Glasgow.
The Bulldogs defeated the Falcons 58-42 on Tuesday. Like most opponents, the Falcons struggled to contain Johnson and Burgess. Johnson scored 26, and Burgess added 17.
“If we had been shooting well last week we could have totally demoralized Fayette,” Allen told his team at practice Wednesday. “But since we have to play them again I don’t know if that would have been good or bad. Either way, I don’t think it’s going to be as easy as it was last time.”
Despite Allen’s cautions not to overlook Fayette, many of the Bulldogs are focusing on Harrisburg, their potential second-round opponent.
Johnson said he wants revenge against No. 2 Harrisburg, one of the few teams to defeat the Bulldogs this year. This season, Harrisburg most recently beat Douglass 70-46 on Feb. 12.
“I’m really ready for Harrisburg,” Johnson said. “They beat us twice and I can’t see them beating us again. I’m really anxious to play them.”
Even Allen can’t resist the lure of another chance to play Harrisburg.
“I would love another shot at Harrisburg. In my estimation, they are the best team in the state,” Allen said. “But we’ve got to beat Fayette to do it, and at this point in the season you’ve just got to take it one game at a time. Every game could be your last.”