Holiday Invitational

Young Garner team looks for experience in Holiday Invitational

Posted December 12, 2013

Garner's Julius Barnes (10) gets up for a shot in the lane over Clayton's Rodney Moore (20). Garner won the the Greater Neuse River Conference Tournament Championship played at Garner High School Friday, February 17, 2012 beating Clayton 70-68. Photo by Dean

Garner High School enters the  HighSchoolOT.com Holiday Invitational field looking to gain valuable experience for a young squad.

The Trojans feature a pair of freshmen along with a trio of sophomores after several years of senior laded teams.

Garner coach Eddie Gray will led the Trojans into the tournament for the 24th time in program history, and he understands just how valuable this tournament is.

"Over the past 24 years the Holiday Tournament has helped to define our program. Hopefully, the atmosphere of the tournament will motivate our young team to play the style of basketball that has helped our program to win or share the regular season championship for the past five years," Gray said. "We are hoping that our basketball tradition will help us to come together and keep our play-off streak alive. The tournament will certainly prepare us for the rigors of conference play.”

One young player that the Trojans are counting on for a successful conference season is Julius Barnes The junior has twice participated in Dave Telep’s Carolina Challenge, and he has turned into a leader for the Trojans.

“Julius is a floor leader, but people have to remember that a point guard is only as good as the other players on the court. He will be playing with guys that were either playing middle school or junior varsity ball last season,” said Gray.

Barnes isn’t the only stand-out for the Trojans though, Gray feels like his club could be littered with play-makers.

“Thomas Allen, a freshman, has been our leading scorer. He is a very good shooter and is working hard in practice to learn our system," Gray said. "Jashaun Smith, a sophomore, is our tallest starter and has great potential to be a good inside-outside player for us once he gets stronger.

Gray said the post is a place the Trojans need work.

"We are still looking for someone to step up for us in post. Unfortunately, Sammy Saunders suffered a stress fracture in his leg and will not be available to play.”

Garner enters the tournament having been challenged in the non-conference and finally has a full roster after missing key components due to the length of the the Trojans' football season.

Follow Chris Edwards on Twitter @Chris__Edwards

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