Teams don't always give holiday tournaments the best offering.
Some players might be away on vacation. Crowds are often sparse. Minds are elsewhere and, as a result, play can sometimes lag.
Ridgeland boys basketball coach Jeremiah Faber saw the symptoms from his Jaguars during a recent trip to a tournament in Charleston. His response was to run his players hard during Monday's practice.
And the Jaguars didn't stop running. They used several big bursts Tuesday to put away Whale Branch High School and coast to a 61-43 victory.
Ridgeland won its third consecutive Region 5-A game to start the league schedule.
"We usually slow it down," Jaguars forward Torray Amlett said. "It looks like we play better when we run fast."
Amlett said he and his teammates carried over the adrenaline from the extra running Monday. At critical junctures, the Jaguars made all the big plays.
They started the second quarter on a 12-0 run to break open a tie game. After Whale Branch went into the half with a little momentum, Ridgeland grabbed it back with a nifty inbounds play and Tevin Stevenson dunk to start the third quarter.
The dunk was Stevenson's second of the game. He would later miss another attempt, but his willingness to attack the basket was infectious.
Whale Branch coach Linc Lyles didn't fault his players' effort. He said they showed the proper energy, particularly on defense, and that the team leaders spoke up in the locker room after the loss.
At least they're caring.
"We're just -- mental mistakes," Lyles said. "Things we work on every day, we've got to continue to work on every day."
Lyles said the Warriors play well defensively, but too often look to Stedmon James to carry the load on the offensive end. James scored 22 Tuesday, including a 3-pointer at the end of the first half to bring the Warriors within 10. But no other Whale Branch player joined him in double figures.
James is content to lead the way, Lyles said, but he will need help. And a little rest now and then.
Ridgeland's starters were able to catch their breath for much of the fourth quarter. The margin allowed Faber to assess his team's depth and attitude as it prepared for a busy schedule ahead.
"I wanted a change in mind-set, a change in attitude," he said. "Even though we had three games this week, I felt like I needed to change the mind-set of the basketball players, draw a line in the sand and see who wanted to play basketball."
Ridgeland boys 61, Whale Branch 43
RIDGELAND (5-2, 3-0 Region 5-A) -- Torray Amlett 15, Tevin Stevenson 13, Jeremy Scott 11, Maurice Dargon 6, Darren Clark 6, Trevon Patterson 5, Jerry Scott 2, Tyron Mikell 2, Derrick Solomon 1.
WHALE BRANCH (2-7, 1-2 Region 5-A) -- Stedmon James 22, Leroy Perry 8, Charles Jiles 4, De'Vonte Lykes 3, Dee Delaney 3, Eric Frazier 2, Chavonne Simmons 1
Ridgeland girls 66, Whale Branch 15
Ridgeland coach Frederick Toomer just about knew how this one would play out, but he wanted his girls to remain focused, to work on offensive and defensive sets and to continue the team's strong start in region play.
The Jaguars delivered, cruising past Whale Branch on their way to a 3-0 start in Region 5-A.
Ridgeland's combination of guard April Jenkins, who scored the game's first eight points, and post presence Brittany Richardson overwhelmed the Warriors.
Toomer, who normally prefers man-to-man defense, got a chance to see his team in a zone some of the night.
"We're improving," he said. "We're on the right track."
RIDGELAND (5-2, 3-0 Region 5-A) -- Brittany Richardson 20, April Jenkins 14, Tonisha Roberts 7, Tiara Nelson 6, Brittany Ford 5, Matesha Stevenson 4, Samantha Mervin 4, Teleatha Dopson 2, Monica Scott 2, Alshaya Thompson 2
WHALE BRANCH (2-7, 1-2 Region 5-A) -- Brittney Pryor 4, Tasheka Wright 4, Kenyada Moultrie 2, Cynthia Rivers 2, S'Nitra Mack 2, Ruth Thompson 1