Bryan County High School girls basketball coach Mario Mincey has experienced plenty of success in his five years in Pembroke.
A region title. Trips to the state playoffs and a Sweet 16 appearance just two seasons ago.
That should make this year’s 0-3 start hard to stomach, right? Well yes and no.
Mincey expected a rebuilding year after losing 1,000-point scorers Satashala Beasley and Tiffany Howard off last season’s squad. But he thought he’d have senior Diamond McGirt, the team’s leading scorer from last season, back to help ease the transition.
But McGirt, who averaged 15 points a game as a junior, fractured her ankle on Friday in a 52-36 loss to Southeast Bulloch and isn’t expected to be able to play again until after Christmas.
The Lady Redskins have also been without freshman center Breonna Stringer, who has been out with a high ankle sprain suffered before the season opener.
It’s no wonder Mincey said he’d have to give his team an “incomplete” if he were grading it.
“It’s been crazy, but things happen for a reason,” Mincey said. “We’ve had success in the past. Now we’re going through things with growing pains and we’ve had some injuries, but we’ll be OK.”
Bryan County, which played at McIntosh County Academy on Tuesday night, is now relying on a junior and sophomore heavy lineup led by sophomores Brianna Smith and Rita Ivey.
Smith tossed in nine points, pulled down three rebounds and had two assists in the Lady Redskins’ most recent setback, a 41-36 loss to Portal on Saturday. Ivey had six points and six rebounds for Bryan County and had 10 points in the team’s loss at SEB while Smith had nine.
McGirt scored 18 in the team’s home opener, a 70-50 loss to Toombs County, and four points before she was hurt Friday night.
With more than 830 career points, she was on track to perhaps become the team’s third 1,000 point scorer in two years.
“It’s going to be hard to win without her and our post player,” Mincey said. “Our young girls are going to get a lot of playing time. But we knew it was going to be tough anyway even without the injuries. It’s a challenge we accept.”
And as the Lady Redskins enter their first season in Class AA, the team may have faced its toughest subregion opponent Tuesday night in Darien when they took on the Lady Buccaneers and 6-foot center Makhala Jackson, considered one of the top young post players in the Coastal Empire.
“They’re a little bit ahead of everybody else because of what they have coming back,” Mincey said of MCA. “Long County and Metter and St. Vincent’s Academy, I feel we can be competitive with them.”
Mincey expected Stringer to see limited action against the Lady Bucs on Tuesday night.
The Lady Redskins play host to Bacon County at 6 p.m. Friday night, then travel to Portal on Saturday.