The Carrollton High School boys’ basketball coach and his Trojans will play host to the Carrollton Christmas Tournament today through Saturday, with action tipping off at 4 p.m. this afternoon, culminating with the host team battling Creekside tonight at 8:30 in the last of four quarterfinal matchups — two boys games and two girls games — on the opening day of play.
“You know, Oxford came in here and whooped us [in the season opener], Lithia Springs has only lost two games and [Greater Atlanta Christian] is undefeated and probably the favorite to win Class AA. They are probably as good as anybody around,” Criswell said. “And then you’ve got Creekside, Riverdale, Chapel Hill that are traditionally strong teams. If you’re interested in seeing some good basketball, there’s going to be a lot of good players and a lot of athletic kids in here over the next four days.”
The first order of business for the Trojans (4-1) is a Creekside squad that Criswell said is better than its 1-6 record would show.
“Their record is not an indicator of what kind of team they’ve got. They’re extremely athletic. They’ve got size — 6-7, 6-4, 6-5 guys — and they run and jump and put a lot of pressure on you. We’ve got our hands full, no doubt,” Criswell said.
The winner of the Carrollton/Creekside contest will face the winner from Thursday’s Randolph-Clay (4-2) and Riverdale (7-5) quarterfinal on Friday at 8:30 p.m. in the semifinals. The bottom of the bracket pits Oxford (Ala.) — which beat the Trojans in the season opener on Nov. 30, 57-46 — against Chapel Hill on Thursday, while GAC (7-0) and Lithia Springs (7-2) meet today at 5:30 p.m. in what could be the most intriguing opening-round matchup over the next two days.
Carrollton has won four straight since suffering the season-opening loss to the Yellow Jackets, and Criswell said the team is beginning to come together after getting some cohesive time on the court as a full unit.
“We’re getting better. I see some guys in practice every day that are starting to get their legs under them, from a basketball standpoint. They’re starting to get a little bit of rhythm into what we’re doing and starting to figure out who we need to play and that sort of thing. Hopefully, by the team we get through our tournament and get through with the Florida tournament, we’ll have a pretty good indication of where we’re at,” Criswell said.
“We need these next six games. Win, lose or draw, we need to play them. It’s against good competition and it’ll get us ready for region play, because our region is going to be really tough.”