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Blazers put first things first, meet fans

 The Valdosta State Blazers and Lady Blazers basketball programs hosted Meet the Blazers on Sunday at the P.E. Complex.
 Meet the Blazers is a way for the Valdosta State faithful to meet the teams that will take the court this season. The Blazers and Lady Blazers also host a  basketball clinic for children from the ages of 5-13 years old. The Blazers and Lady Blazers work with the youth of the camp on various drills, such as shooting, footwork, passing and rebounding.
 “Anytime you come out and work with the youth in the community, I think is a great thing,” Mike Helfer , men’s   basketball head coach, said. “Our guys realize they have to be role   models.”
 The Blazers then put on a slam dunk contest for the campers, which was won by 6 foot 10 inch junior forward Billy McShepard, and then the day was finished off with an autograph session hosted by both teams.
 The Blazers are currently ranked 7th in the Division II   pre-season poll and are picked to win the Gulf South Conference. The Blazers will begin the season on Monday when they host Carver Bible at the P.E Complex.
 “We’re excited for our first game on Monday and to be able to interact with our fans,” Ryan Nelson, senior guard, said. “We all have the same goal which is to win the national championship but obviously you have to take it one game at a time so we’re not looking too far ahead.”
 The Blazers have enjoyed a good pre-season and are currently working at all aspects of their game, according to Helfer.
 “We have to continue to get better,” Helfer said. “I don’t think I can say we are ready    because we’re not.  We have to work on little things.”
 The Lady Blazers just missed out on making the Division II pre-season poll, however a few wins early in the year could have the Lady Blazers ranked. The Lady Blazers are a roster filled with three freshman and six sophomores, and according to Head Coach Kiley Hall, the Lady Blazers are currently lacking consistency.
 “We’re still young in certain parts of our team,” Hall said. “We’re not a bad team, we’re just not firing on all cylinders so we’re stressing to be a very    consistent basketball team.”
 The Lady Blazers begin their season on Sunday when they host Lander at the P.E. Complex. The game will tip-off at 2 p.m. The Spectator has both the Blazers and Lady Blazers covered, as you can read about every home at vsuspectator.com.

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