The 2007-2008 Bryan County High School basketball season kicked off Nov. 20 as the Redskin varsity girls and boys teams hit the hardwood for their season opener with a short trip across town to take on the Richmond Hill Wildcats in Richmond Hill.
Though both the boys and girls teams suffered defeat on this opening night of action, hopes of better things to come for this year are being echoed from both coaches as they prepare their squads for this year’s round ball competition.
Varsity boys coach, Keith Bazemore, said he is looking for improvement and leadership from three returning starters: Winston Johnson, D.J. McElroy, and Willie Deloach. Also expecting to make great contributions will be football standout Ivey Mutcherson, whom coach Bazemore says is "a disrupter on defense. Ivey has worked hard over the summer and we are expecting vast improvement and good things from him this season".
Height of the players is under six feet across the board, but Bazemore will rely on a combination of styles to propel his team to victory.
"We don’t really have any outstanding shooters on this team, so we will focus on strong defensive fundamentals and use our quickness and speed to hopefully create some full court pressure that will result in turnovers and some cheap baskets for us offensively," Bazemore said.
With 23 games on this year’s slate, the Redskin bench will have to step up and be productive in order to compete and put some ‘W’s in the books.
"We should have several players on our team that can come off the bench and give us some effective playing time," Bazemore said. As far as Region competition goes, Bazemore mentioned Portal, Savannah Country Day and Calvary as teams to watch, but thought ECI may be the stronghorse in Region 3-A this year.
As for the girls team, over 25 anxious girls welcomed first year coach, Mario Mincey, to their first day of practice this year and that alone gave reason for excitement to this year’s varsity girls basketball season.
Coming to Bryan County from a region foe, Jenkins County, where he was head Varsity coach for the girls squad and assistant boys coach, Mincey faces this year with uncertainty.
Along with his uncertainty, he does feel some comfort as four returning starters make their way back onto the court for their senior season. The foursome of Tara Miles, Mitzi Cross, Brittany Slater and the tallest of the group, Monteza Bishop, will carry much of the load for the Lady Skins as they have played together since the tenth grade and have proven to be a talented bunch.
"These four returning starters will be the leaders this year and hopefully they can teach some of the younger girls," Mincey said. "Maybe some of the other girls will prove themselves to be diamonds in the rough to step up and help us this year."
The new coach is expecting to make progress as far as ‘wins’ go, but his focus in the early part of the year will be on teamwork and comraderie.
Mincey will also build his team around the fundamentals of the game and a pressing defense. The boys and girls team will be in action again Friday night in Pembroke as they play host to Toombs County. Tip-off will be 6:30 pm for the girls with the Redskin boys hitting the hardwood at 8 p.m.