Bryan County High School has gotten used to winning under girls’ basketball coach Mario Mincey, whose teams routinely made playoff runs during their long stay in Class A.
That made last season’s 6-19 mark something of an anomaly for the Lady Redskins, who moved up to Class AA last winter. The difference in depth was apparent, and injuries to key players didn’t help.
But Mincey said the Lady Redskins are using last season as motivation for their second foray through the wilds of Region 2-AA, a region that includes powers Vidalia, McIntosh County Academy and more.
“Our region is really tough for girls’ basketball,” he said. “On any given night you can get beat because it’s so competitive.”
Add in a last season’s tough nonregion — every team BCHS played made the state playoffs — and Mincey thinks the experience should prove helpful to this year’s squad, which lost both 1,000-point scorer Diamond Mcgirt and guard Macy Newman to graduation.
There’s no doubt the team will be young.
Mincey, in his seventh year, lists freshmen as key newcomers — Yasmaine Crawford, Julianne Brown, Alyssa Edwards, Delanee McFarland and J’Paige Jacobs, along with Alayna Williams.
Returning are seniors Kolbie Graves and Seniorita Ivey, juniors Brianna Smith, Kaylee Perks and Shay Fabin, and sophomores Kaylin Leggett, Shakala Dukes, Breonna Stringer and Katrina Stillwell.
And they’re a group on a mission, according to their coach.
“We look to improve a lot from last year,” he said. “Injuries, youth and the move to AA was very tough for us last year. Not making the state playoffs for the first time in four years is something that we are using for motivation for this year’s campaign.”
Still, it could take time to get things moving — though the team opened with a 52-32 scrimmage win last week over Jenkins County. Smith led the way with 13 points, four steals and three assists while Graves chipped in 11 points and three steals. Brown contributed 11 points, four rebounds and a pair of assists.
While Mincey stresses defense, he said the team’s personality depends on who’s on the court at any given time.
“We have the ability to be a half-court team or an uptempo team. It will really depend on how fast our young players catch on,” he said.
The Lady Redskins opened the regular season Friday night at Southeast Bulloch. Their home opener is Dec. 3 against McIntosh County Academy.
“As the year goes on I think we will get better,” Mincey said. “We will have our bumps in the road because of your youth, but this group reminds me a lot of our state playoff teams of 2010-2012 and the region championship team of 2011. Again, those groups had their growing pains, but when they figured it out they were a hard team to beat.”