High School Basketball Preview: 2019-2020
MADISON- The 2019-2020 season of following the bouncing ball is underway as the newest high school basketball season is currently in action with each and every team having one goal in mind- win.
The Madison area is blessed to have superb prep basketball programs and the latest season is no exception. Three of the eight boys and girls squads will be going through what could be called rebuilding years as those squads start the latest campaign almost from scratch with zero starters returning from a year ago.
For both Bob Jones girls and James Clemens boys those teams hit the hardwood with first-year head coaches, which will make for an interesting season of prep action for those two programs.
Luther Tiggs is in his fourth season as head coach of the Bob Jones boys’ team that was 16-15 a season ago. He lost four seniors from that team and has three starters returning two of whom are seniors and are Div. 1 caliber players. Jaden Coleman (6-4, G) signed with Tulane while Jalen Myers (6-8, SG) currently has offers from Georgetown, Troy, St. John’s and others.
The Patriots return 65-percent of last season’s scorers, so scoring points shouldn’t be a problem, but losing in their first post-season area game to end the season last year is something that is pushing this year’s team.
“We’ve been talking about it all summer since that loss to Florence and we’ve said it won’t happen again,” said Coleman.
“We’ve had a complete mental turnaround as we had several players not strong in that area last year, but this season will be different,” added Myers.
The Lady Patriots have first-year head coach Jazmine Powers on board who replaced Andre Reynolds who was at the helm for five seasons. She brings new life to a team that posted an 8-20 record and is doing so with nine seniors who seem to be willing to buy into Powers’ style of being super passionate about what she does and building relationships. “I feel my level of passion and intensity is something a little different for these players, but they have acclimated very well to the changes,” said Powers.
“Our goal is to get those wins and the ring,” said senior Deja Guinn (5-5, G, Sr.).
“We created a vision board with all of our ideas and aspirations this year as we have the talent and the intensity needed to fit all the pieces of the puzzle together to make for a great season,” said Jae Walls, (5-10, F, Sr.).
If you’re looking for the definition of “fresh start,” then take a gander at the James Clemens Jets program. First-year head coach Frankie Sullivan and zero starters returning from a year ago is all you need to know about this season’s Jets, which lost a dozen seniors off last year’s squad including All-State player Garrett Hicks.
One saving grace for Sullivan are the facts this season’s roster has six seniors and seven juniors. Sullivan is well aware of those talents as he was the assistant coach last season to longtime coach Danny Petty who retired after five years at James Clemens and 46 years overall as a high school basketball coach.
The former Auburn star said, “I reach out to Coach Petty everyday as he taught me so much last season and helped me tremendously about what I need to do in this season. I was left with just three players from last year and none of them played major minutes on varsity, but I’m still confident these guys will get the job done.”
One of the returning players is 6-8, 210-pound Brody Davis who is just a junior, but feels ready to join in on Sullivan’s style of play. He said, “We’re fast paced and execution focused. I’ve worked all summer to get into shape and we all feel ready mentally and physically. We understand Coach Sullivan’s immense experience and knowledge of the game.”
The Lady Jets were 14-15 last season and lost in the Regional semi-finals under than first-year head coach Capriee Tucker. In season two, look for the Jets to move the ball and be fundamentally sound.
One of the two seniors on the team, Bre Jefferson (5-6, F), said, “This year she’s challenged us to better communication and accountability of who we are. We made mistakes last season and fell into a hole and could not execute to come out of that hole. This season if we don’t fall into that hole, we should do good.”
Fellow senior Jordan Yates (5-4, PG) is the team’s point guard and looks forward to taking charge of the offense to score, but also understands defense is the name of the game. She added, “You can get stops on defense at any time, but if you don’t score, that’s not going to help you win.”
The Sparkman Senators lost in a regional semi-final contest to end last season and close out the great career of First-Team All-State shooting guard Malik Tyson. Fast forward to now and the Senators have four part-time starters returning including two sophomores who have already received college offers from big-time programs. Tyrese Elliott (6-2, 180, G) and Calen Lightford (5-11, 150, G) are being looked at to carry the team.
“We expect offers to increase for both of these players as they both have something special and are hard workers,” said Jamie Coggins, in his eighth season as head coach of the Senators.
Sparkman also has two transfers on its roster. Jayron James (6-8, 225, C, Sr.) arrived from Florida and D.J. Holt (6-2, 175, G, Jr.), who also plays football, came to Harvest from Montgomery. Both are expected to see plenty of playing time and will fit into the up tempo, fast style of play the Senators will provide.
“We’re a track team,” said Elliott. “Plus we have an amazing defense as our full court defense is unstoppable.”
Lightford added, “We go out with the same mindset against each team and give 100-percent effort and being the point guard I feel like they gave me the keys to the Mercedes, it’s up to me to drive it.”
The perennial successful Lady Senators completed last season at 27-6 and was expected to make a run at the Class 7A state title, but a surprising loss in the regional finals ended their quest at winning it all. Nine seniors and all starters are gone from that squad and head coach Patrick Delay knows he’s sort of going through a rebuild year.
“This is the first time that has happened to me in my coaching career,” said Delay in his eighth season as head coach.
Three seniors, five juniors and one sophomore make up the roster of Senators and all have memory of the close of the last campaign. “I want to strive to do better so we don’t have that same disappointment,” said Ajana Toney (5-2, G, Sr.).
“We have a lot of younger players, so they don’t have a lot of varsity experience as this is all new to them,” added Faith Moore (6-0, F, Sr.). “As a senior it feels great as you’re a role model for those. It makes me be a good example for others.”
Dasia Smartt (5-4, PG, Sr.) will be the general on the floor as point guard. She said, “We have confidence and comradery with everything we do. This season we have new plays and we feel we can execute much better.”
The Madison Academy Mustangs have an equal presence of classes represented on its roster for 2019-2020 with three players each representing the senior, junior and sophomore classes. Senior Jay Ferrill (5-10, G, Sr.) and Mike Houston (6-0, F, Jr.) are being labeled two of the players who are being expected to take this team to success.
Andy Blackston is in his 14th year as head coach and has led the Mustangs to six state championships.
The Lady Mustangs lost in the state finals by three points and those returning still feel the sting of being so close to a state title. Two super-valuable seniors Jaden Langford (5-8, G, Sr.) and Destinee McGhee (6-2, C, Sr.) will lead this team to what hopefully will be a spot in the Class 5A State Tournament.
“I just want us to max out our potential whether that’s winning a state championship or not,” said Langford who has verbally committed to Samford. “Obviously we want to go after what we left behind last year, but we’re focused one day at a time and getting better each day.”
McGhee, a recent Arkansas signee, was a First-Team All-State selection as a junior knows with new players on board this season, the Lady Mustangs must strive to be more consistent. She added, “Our team has a lot of threats as our opponents can’t concentrate on just one player as any of us can do a lot of different things.”
Head coach Alissa Flowers is in her third campaign as top Mustang and looks to senior players to take the lead, but knows the bench personnel will definitely be difference makers. She added, “One key for us will be my first five and how long they can last. The makeup of our team is going to be much different as we lost five seniors off last year’s team. I look to Jaden and Destinee to be leaders in a way I haven’t seen before.”