Some serious groundwork is being laid by the Fort Campbell High School varsity basketball team as they fight through their season, despite challenges and tough opponents.
“The season has been great, there’s been a lot of ups and downs but I think we as a team we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Robbie Townsend, head coach. “We’re facing a lot of adversity, we have players going down left and right due to injuries, but I feel like we are going to have a pretty amazing ending to the season.”
Townsend said the team began the season with about a dozen varisty players. Now, eight remain. However, two players have recently been injured, leaving the varsity bench just six players deep.
“That means our guys have to play more minutes and we have to adjust and rebuild,” Townsend said. “They don’t give up though.”
The team also loses players because Families frequently move, which is the nature of military life, Townsend said.
Rebuilding midseason is a challenge unique to FCHS sports teams because of the military lifestyle, said Townsend, who also has coached at off-post schools.
Townsend said the players are still learning how to feel confident in their abilities on the court.
“I think we’re very capable of winning, I think it’s just the mental part we still struggle with,” he said. “At this point I think we’re 90% confident, I tell them all the time I believe in them, but they have to believe in themselves. It’s a process and we’re getting there.”
On Jan. 22, the Fort Campbell Falcons faced off against the Hopkinsville High School basketball team for the second time this season, at Fort Campbell High School.
“Last time we played Hopkinsville it was a close game, it went to the very end,” Townsend said. “For this one, we need to make a few adjustments and come back ready to work. We get out what we put in, and we need to keep working hard.”
The team battled throughout the game, but ultimately fell to Hopkinsville, 40-76.
“We came out flat in the first half,” said player Ryan Pretlow. “We tried to bring it back in the second half and it didn’t work. We got out-worked tonight. The younger guys ended up coming out to play and they did really good, we need to feed off of their energy for the next game. It really comes down to who wants it more in the games and who is going to fight for it.”
The FCHS junior varsity and freshman basketball team relieved the varsity team near the end of the game against Hopkinsville. The fresh players on the court significantly raised the Falcons final score 20 points higher from where it was at halftime.
“I have a couple of seventh and eighth graders and four ninth graders playing for the JV and freshman team that have come up and played during games,” Townsend said. “Those guys work hard, I tell them every day, I don’t care how big you are, what grade you are in, you have to give 100%. You get out what you put in, and they’re buying into it and working hard.”
The team remained in good spirits throughout the game, something they attribute to their strong family-like bond.
“We have a great group of guys that are working hard and are really family oriented,” Townsend said. “They understand it’s a process and they work for it. If you come out and watch them play, you won’t be disappointed.”
Now in his second year as head coach, Townsend, also the FCHS athletic director, is a 2008 graduate of Fort Campbell High and an alumnus of the athletic program.
“This is home to me,” he said. “It’s amazing to be here and give back to the community I came from. I want to give back to these guys and help them reach their full potential, not just in basketball but in life.”
The team still has a long road ahead of them, but paired with a coach committed to their growth.
“We’ve been doing pretty decent in some games, in others we needed to work harder in them,” Pretlow said. “We need to continue working hard all season. We have a common goal as a team to want to cut down the net at the end of the season and go as far as possible.”
And the team players assure their fans the season is far from over. So far the Falcons have won six games and lost 11 games, and have 10 remaining games to play this season that concludes at the end of February.
“It’s been a back and forth season, we try to be consistent and we do whatever we can to get a win, but it’s still hard,” said player Cameron Pratt. “I think we have players who all really want to play and be here, we have better attitudes as a team this year. We are going to keep trying to give a good game every night and pull as many wins as we can until the end of the season.”
There are still several opportunities to watch the Falcons in action. The freshman team will play in a nonconference game vs. Madisonville-North Hopkins 12:30 p.m. Jan. 25 at FCHS. Both the JV and varsity teams also have nonconference home games against Russellville 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. Jan. 27, and 6 and 7:30 p.m. Jan. 28.