Boys High School Basketball Preview

Published 7:59 pm Saturday, November 22, 2008

Billingsley Bears

Coach: Jeremy Carter

Last year: 2-8

Class 1A, Area 6: Akron, Autaugaville, Holy Spirit, Maplesville

Starting five: PG-*Bryant Reese-Jr., G-Perry Brown-Sr., G-*Travis Ivy-Sr., F-*Raphael Brooks-Jr., C-*Jay Tyus-Sr.

Next three: G-Wes Lawrence-Jr., F-Norman Laister-Jr., F-Matt Paulene-Sr.

Outlook: Billingsley has had only two practices and played only one game since its football season ended with a playoff loss on Nov. 14, but Carter said the fact that many of his players also played football is a positive instead of a negative. “It makes it easier because you have coached them already,” said Carter, who is in his first year leading the basketball program. “You’re not having to try to build a relationship with them.”

First game: defeated Verbena, 73-26, on Nov. 20

Chilton Christian Academy Patriots

Coach: Chris Jones

Last year: 23-6

Alabama Christian Education Athletic Association Division I, Region B, Area I: Glen Iris, Mellow Valley, Trinity

Starting five: PG-Matthew Klein-Fr., G-Zach Brown-So., G-Tim Harris-Jr., F-*Will Clark-Sr., C-Zac Pierce-Jr.

Next two: F-Robi Klein-Jr., G-Lee Woodfin-Sr.

Outlook: Three-fifths of the starting lineup from last year’s highly successful team are gone, but CCA is focused on defending its 29-game home winning streak. Upperclassmen Clark, Pierce and Harris must fill the leadership void left by graduation. “They are really starting to step up early, but the consistency comes with senior leadership,” Jones said. “It will take some time to build.”

First game: The Patriots went 1-1 at the Brooklane Tournament in Hueytown and were 3-1 heading into this weekend’s West Florida tournament.

Chilton County High Tigers

Coach: Donnie Hand

Last year: 16-12

Class 5A, Area 5: Carver-Montgomery, Demopolis, Selma

Starting five: PG-*Taylor Hughes-Jr., SG-*Tra Felder-Sr., SF-Josh Williams-Jr. or *Kaland Farrow-Sr., PF-Josh Rogers-Sr. or Steven Jones-Sr., C-*Kenyon Floyd-Sr.

Next one: F-Edward Williams-Sr.

Outlook: The top three scorers from last season are gone, but this year’s team has more depth. CCHS does not boast much height, so Hand said the Tigers will rely on their quickness. “We have seven seniors on the team, so they should know what it takes to play,” Hand said.

First game: Defeated Prattville, 68-59, on Nov. 20

Isabella Mustangs

Coach: Glen Graham

Last year: 7-10

Class 2A, Area 7: American Christian, Hale Co., Pickens Co.

Starting five: PG-Evan Russell-Jr., G-*Brandon Veazey-Sr., F-Austin Anderson-Jr., F-*Brian Donovan-Sr., C-*Norman Craig-Sr.

Next four: G-Jordan Lenoir-So., G/F-Austin Haigler-So., F-Hunter Mims-Jr.

Outlook: Graham will have a deep, experienced team that returns its top three scorers from last year. “This year, for the first time, I’m not afraid to put anybody I have out on the court,” he said. “We’ve finally got some depth.”

First game: Nov. 24 vs. Billingsley

Jemison Panthers

Coach: Daryl Lowery

Last year: 2-21

Class 2A, Area 7: Bibb Co., Calera, Holt

Starting five: G-*Merrell Morrow-Sr., G-*Terrance Taylor-Jr., G-*Cornelius Strong-Jr., F-*Christian Briscoe-Sr., F-*Teddy Poe-Sr.

Next three: Cody Greer-Jr., Brandon Jones-Jr., Jesse Taylor-So.

Outlook: Jemison was short on numbers last year, which meant not many wins but a wealth of experience for the players, all of which return this year. “Right now, we seem to be a little quicker and a little more sure of what we’re doing,” Lowery said.

First game: Dec. 1 versus Montevallo

Maplesville Red Devils

Coach: Eric Bailey

Last year: 10-10

Class 1A, Area 6: Akron, Autaugaville, Billingsley, Holy Spirit

Starting five: Junior point guard *Brian Bailey is the only returning starter from one year ago. The other four positions will be filled by some combination of sophomore forward Casey Atcheson, freshman guard Chris Bailey, eighth grade guard Anthony Johnson, senior guard/forward Romeo Laister, freshman forward Cameron Morrow, junior guard Josh Talley, sophomore forward Dylan Wallace, and junior forward/center Dominik Wilson. Those that don’t start will see plenty of playing time coming off the bench.

Outlook: Coach Bailey wants his team to hang its hat on a sound, physical defense. “I think the main thing is they have to know their role, what they can bring to the table,” he said.

First game: Dec. 12 vs. Chilton Co.

Thorsby Rebels

Coach: Corey Clements

Last year: 6-14

Class 2A, Area 7: Fultondale, Shades Mountain, Vincent

Starting five: Thorsby doesn’t have a set group of starters yet, Clements said. What is known is that eight players will receive regular playing time: seniors *Daniel Farris and *Nathan Thornton; juniors Brantley Bice, *Evan Bryan and Drew Minor; sophomores Marcus Bray and Andrew Farris; and freshman Eddie Hubbard.

Outlook: Leading scorer and rebounder Cameron Ellison was lost to graduation, but Bryan, Farris and Thornton all averaged at least eight points a game last year. “Early on we will just be trying to establish our identity, learn our roles/limitations and put people in situations to be successful,” Clements said.

First game: Nov. 21 at Indian Springs

Verbena Red Devils

Coach: Jonathan Shedd

Class 1A, Area 5: Autaugaville, Billingsley, Notasulga, Saint Jude

Starting five: PG-*Brandon White-Jr., G-Johntae Gaston-Jr., F-*Brad Boswell-Jr., F-*Marshall McGaskin-Jr., C-*Jason Ray-Jr.

Next three: Marquez Deramus-Fr., Phillip Hensley-8th, Jacob Montgomery-8th

Outlook: Four out of five starters return from last year, but the bench is young. Shedd, a first-year coach, said his team’s most significant obstacle is learning a new system despite a rough start. “Winning a game would go further than anything,” Shedd said.

First game: The Red Devils have compiled an 0-3 record so far.

italics—returning starter