Missing five of its players who were still playing for the school’s football team that advanced to the Class A private school state playoffs, Mount Pisgah lost two of its first three games.
Since the return of the football players, the Patriots (10-4, 3-4 in 6A) have bounced back with nine wins in their next 11 games.
“We didn’t get started until real late,” Mount Pisgah coach Marvin Latham said. “Football went so far and so it took us a while to get our bearing. We had so many guys play football and it took a while for our guys to get their legs back – football legs and basketball legs are so much different. I’m pleased with where we’re at now. Guys are still working hard and overall towards the end of the season, we play our best basketball and I think for us, that’s what’s going to happen.”
Pisgah has succeeded with a guard-dominated lineup that includes 6-foot-1 senior Devin Peterson, 5-8 senior Ben Miller, sophomore Matthew Gonzalez and 6-2 junior Aaron Winchester.
Peterson, who recently signed with Western Carolina, leads the team in scoring with about 21 points a game.
“He’s about 6-1, so he’s a good size and he’s got a great body,” Latham said. “Also, he’s a great defender, very quick. He can get to the rim and finish, but he’s also got a great outside game. He can shoot the three as well and he can drive by and pull up from the midrange, so he’s a complete player. He still has some things he needs to work on at the next level, but he’s one of the best players in our region and we play in a tough region.”
Pisgah has been boosted by the addition of 6-7 ½ junior post player Jess DeLoach, a transfer from Grayson who has given a smaller Patriot lineup more size and presence under the basket.
“He’s a little raw, but he’s got great upside,” Latham said. “He’s one of those kids where you say ‘Man, I like that kid, because he’s long, he’s lean, he’s got long arms and his upside is out the roof.’ It would be really good to see him get in the offseason to work on his craft a little bit and you’ll definitely see him showing something next year.”
Playing in a competitive 6A is a big challenge for Mount Pisgah, with three of its losses coming to region rivals and state powerhouses St. Francis, North Cobb Christian and Whitefield.
“In our region, when you are playing those teams, you’ve got to play your best,” Latham said. “I thought we had a win against Whitefield the other night, but we lost in overtime to them [59-50 Jan. 11]. Every night in our region, you’ve got to bring it. We’re constantly telling our kids that there are no off nights; you’ve got to play with a certain passion for the game. You’ve got to play on the defensive end. You’ve got to take care of the ball. You’ve got to play up to your ability every night.
“We talk to the guys about playing up to your ability, about embracing your role on the team, playing as a team and playing for each other. You do those things and the wins will come.”