It’s not even December, yet Huntsville basketball coach Doug Anderson expects a playoff-like atmosphere this afternoon when the Hornets tip off against Fort Bend Elkins, a strong Class 5A team that posted a 31-5 record last year.

Ranked 20th in the latest Class 4A state rankings, Huntsville has started the season with impressive victories over Tomball, Cleveland and Lufkin. Elkins has notched a couple of nice wins, too, first beating Kingwood 45-41 on opening night, then thrashing Alief Elsik 84-62.

Currently, the Hornets are ranked 19th in the Houston area (among all classifications and private schools) by, while Elkins is ninth.

“Saturday’s going to be a challenge for us,” Anderson said earlier this week. “We’re going to have to bring our A-plus game. Our kids have gotten to the point where they like a challenge, though. They rise to the challenge and I’m very proud of that.”

It may be a chore this afternoon just to stay close to the Knights. Seniors Elston Turner, Jack Hill and Josh Micheaux lead an experienced Elkins team into Hornet Gym, where Huntsville’s young varsity squad is still trying to gel and find its rhythm.

Anderson has been impressed with his team’s progress to this point, but with only one returning starter from last year’s bunch that advanced to the Region III semifinals, the Hornets are far from a finished product.

“We’ve still got to develop our bench,” Anderson said. “George Perry did a great job for us at Lufkin, scoring 12 points and grabbing 12 rebounds off the bench. That’s the kind of production we need from our reserves.

“We’ve still got a competition going to see who is going to be our starters. It just depends on who is producing at the time. That’s who is going to be on the floor.”

Anderson said the Hornets are going to need to put the clamps on Turner, a 6-4 shooting guard who is averaging approximately 15 points per game.

“We haven’t seen him in person, but we know he likes to penetrate and take his guy off the dribble,” the Hornets’ coach said of Turner. “According to (Houston high school basketball expert) Jim Hicks, five of their players are ranked.

“It’s going to be a great challenge for us and I think it’s going to be a great atmosphere. Without a doubt, this game is going to help us improve as a ballclub.”

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