You can say hello to Brent Anderson and within moments know he’s never seen a glass that wasn’t half full.
The Bryan County High School boys’ basketball coach has one of the toughest jobs in the area at a school where success on the court is hard to come by. The school’s last winning season was in 2015 when it posted a 20-8 record. Since then, the Redskins have gone 30-115.
The last three seasons have been especially difficult as Bryan County has gone 1-23, 0-26 and 4-14 last year in a COVID dominated campaign.
Regardless of the circumstances Anderson has continued to maintain an optimistic front and his players, to their credit, play hard to the end whether they’re in contention or down by a sizable margin.
Bryan County opens its season Wednesday night at Savannah Classical Academy and will play its home opener Friday night against Groves.
The Redskins are going to have to grow up in a hurry this season as they have no seniors on a 15-man varsity roster that features eight newcomers.
“There are a couple of couple things that come along with zero seniors on the team,” said Anderson who took Screven County and Dodge County to the state playoffs before coming to Bryan County.
“Usually, it’s a four-year guy that’s been with you for three full seasons and knows exactly what’s going on and knows what I expect as the head coach,” Anderson said. “We don’t have that, however, but we follow it with the next best thing (glass half full).”
“We have three junior starters that have been playing varsity minutes since their freshman year. We are on the same page with those guys and expect a big year out of them.”
The junior trio Anderson and the Redskins will be leaning on are Jamal Campbell, DeVontae Bowers and Jordan Flannel. All started at some point last year and, Anderson said, will be heavily relied upon.
“DeVontae was second in scoring last year at 12.8 points per game,” Anderson said. “Jamal and Jordan both had games where they scored in double figures. They both will be key at the guard position.”
Due to lack of size the Redskins will be a guard-oriented team that will press and scramble all over the floor to keep the opponent from getting into a rhythm and flow.
Bryan County’s roster features six juniors and six sophomores but it will be relying heavily on freshman point guard Elijah Mincey from whom Anderson expects big things.
“Elijah had a great summer and has a great relationship with the rest of our players,” Anderson said. “He’ll be one to watch out for.”
Other returnees from last season include football standouts Austin Clemons, Kam Boggs, Tanner Ellis and Cam Gusman along with Jarred Lavant.
New to the varsity roster are junior Kam Boggs, sophomores Javin Collins, Justin Beck, Carson Nunn and Sean Kelly Hill and freshmen Jayden Odum and Chris Winfree.
Nov. 17: at Savannah Classical Academy; 19: Groves; 20: at South Effingham; 22: Georgia Military College 2:30 p.m. at Screven County Tip Off Tournament; 23: East Laurens 3:30 p.m. at Screven County Tip Off Tournament; 30: at Screven County*.
Dec. 3: Jenkins County*; 4: Southeast Bulloch; 7: at ECI*; 10: Claxton*; 14: at Metter*; 18: South Effingham; 28: Pinewood Christian; 29: Savannah Classical Academy.
Jan. 4: Groves; 6: at Memorial Day School; 7: Portal*; 8: at McIntosh County Academy*; 11: Screven County*; 14: at Jenkins County*; 21: ECI*; 25: at Claxton*; 28: Metter*.
Feb 1: at Portal*; 4: McIntosh County Academy*.
*--Region games.LADY SKINS
It’s not taken for granted but is assumed that when the girls state basketball playoffs roll around Bryan County will be in the field.
It didn’t happen last year due to some extenuating circumstances brought about by COVID-19.
Coming off a 22-6 season Coach Mario Mincey was expecting another similar run. Instead, the Redskins found themselves missing four players who were penciled in as starters due to Bryan County BOE guidelines which state any student choosing virtual learning is ineligible for extracurricular activities.
Mincey, now in his 15th season, found himself playing players who would normally have been relegated to backup roles or to the jayvee team.
The Redskins struggled early but showed steady improvement, finishing 9-12 overall and 8-6 in Region 2A Public play. A three-point loss to Jenkins County in the region tournament marked the end of a run of four straight trips to the state playoffs.
It still stings, said Mincey whose team will open its season on Nov 19 when it hosts Groves before going to South Effingham the next night.
“They are self-motivated,” Mincey said. “They have a standard to live up to and not making the playoffs last year they didn’t do that.”
“They talked about it all summer. We had former players like Olanna Rawls, Jay Black and Kelsey Leggett helping us with our summer program and they talked to them. We have a family atmosphere here and former players are always coming in to help out.”
Bryan County’s best rebounder, Ty Anthony, will be out until at least January with a knee injury and there are nine freshmen on the varsity roster, but the starting lineup is now experienced with three seniors and two juniors.
Senior Anderia Jackson will start at point guard with fellow seniors Niyah Shuman and Zipporah Johnson joined by juniors Emery Adams and Kenzie Stucker.
While those five are all solid the freshmen have Mincey excited. He has never been hesitant to play young players.
“They’re full of energy, willing to learn,” Mincey said. “Ashanti Brown is a wing player who is a good athlete, plays fast and, like a lot of our kids, plays bigger than she is. Katelyn King is a 5-foot-8 wing player who will help us a lot.”
“I don’t know if the freshman group has a superstar but they’re deep and they all love to defend. We’ll still be doing what we always do: play hard-nosed defense and running around all over the place.”
Nov. 19: Groves; 20: at South Effingham; 22: Georgia Military College at Screven County; 23: at East Laurens; 30: at Screven County*.
Dec. 3: Jenkins County*; 7: at ECI*; 10: Claxton*; 14: Metter; 16: at Effingham County; 18: South Effingham; 28: Pinewood Christian; 29: New Hampstead.
Jan. 7: Portal*; 11: Screven County*; 14: at Jenkins County*; 28: at Claxton*.
Feb. 1: at Portal*.