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Jazmine Powers is in her second season as head coach of the Bob Jones girls basketball team. The Lady Patriots’ roster features no seniors and no returning starters off last year’s team. Photo Contributed

Girls High School Basketball Preview 2020

MADISON- The current high school basketball season is underway and with recent restrictions and quarantines due to the ongoing pandemic of COVID-19 some are commenting the 2020-2021 season may be on the verge of being cancelled or at least the season schedule heavily eliminated. No matter how local teams are being challenged during the current health issues, the girls making up the rosters of the four local teams are wanting to play and continue the current campaign.

Bob Jones

The 2020-2021 season for the Lady Patriots of Bob Jones is not only going through a bizarre season due to the pandemic, but are facing one of the most unusual seasons just from a roster standpoint.

The Patriots return zero starters from last season’s squad that posted an 11-15 record and possess no seniors on this year’s roster. Second year head coach Jazmine Powers is looking at a varsity roster that features five juniors and three freshman with only one of those juniors seeing varsity playing time a year ago.

“I list this team as ‘Gritty and Tough’ as they play tough, very competitive, quick and ready to compete as the players are hungry to succeed,” said Powers. “Our team has been on COVID-19 quarantine twice and have worked hard to come back. They are a special group.”

Those starting for the Patriots include Emariah Grant (PG, 5-3, Jr.) who is the team’s point guard, can handle the ball, hit the three-point shot and is very quick. She is the lone player who had quality of playing time on the varsity squad last season; Aniyah Grant (G, 5-7, Jr.) who can play the post as well as the guard position. She is very versatile by playing both the wing and inside and is very aggressive; Janiyah Bone (G, 5-7, Fr.) a rare, special freshman according to Powers. She can score in multiple ways and the team is expecting a lot of success from her; Alana Obianozie (G, 5-8, Fr.) is a game changer for the Patriots. She’s hustles and never stops, especially on defense. She has the motor skills to cover and shoot the threes; Jordyn Fields (PG, 5-1, Fr.) is the shortest player on the team, but is a great facilitator, has leadership qualities and can go up and down the court.

Powers said her sixth player is Adeline Barnes (F, 5-10, Jr.) who is a Class 7-A All-State volleyball player for Bob Jones. “She easily can be starter for us as her size gives her a presence on the court, plus she is very humble and a natural leader,” said Powers.

“This team is completely different from last year’s roster that included nine seniors and our players are very receptive to what we’re doing,” added Powers. “I feel good and I’m in a good place with this squad.”

James Clemens

Three starters and loads of additional talent make up the 2020-2021 version of the James Clemens Jets squad. Third-year head coach Capriee Tucker said, “This program is running like I had envisioned it would.”

The three starters on the return from the 6-20 squad of a season ago include Jazmyn Jackson, Annalisha Jolly and Tamia Yancey, all of whom are seniors. Add junior Kenli Myers and sophomore Nyla Grace Collier along with a tough sixth player in Jordan Spivey and you have what could be a team to be reckoned with during the current campaign.

“We’re still trying to find our niche on offense while on defense we have some hard-nosed kids who find a way to get it done,” added Tucker.

The top six players are regarded as hard to beat and they include Jazmyn Jackson (G, 5-6, Sr.) who is the most consistent ball handler at point guard and is a floor general as a three-year starter for the Jets. She does it all and is very gritty and usually defends the best player on the opposing teams; Annalisha Jolly (G, 5-4, Sr.) is one of players the Jets’ lean on defensively. She has worked during the off season on being a more all-around player and will play inside when needed; Tamia Yancey (F, 5-10, Sr.) is a fulltime two-year starter and also had some starts as a sophomore three years ago. One of the squad’s more physical players and is a super athlete and possibly the best athlete on the team as she’s able to play multiple positions and is a duel threat; Kenli Myers (G, 5-5, Jr.) played the entire season a year ago with both a torn labrum and a fractured foot. She battled through the pains and always finds a way to get things done on the court. She had surgery in February and is now at full speed; Nyla Grace Collier (G, 5-6, So.) began playing some varsity in the eighth grade and continued playing some big level contests as a freshman a season ago. She has received some looks from colleges and is regarded by Tucker as the complete package. Tucker said Collier will play Div. I basketball when she’s completed her years for the Jets.

The six player for James Clemens is Jordan Spivey (G, 5-4, Jr.) who had no basketball experience until she was in the seventh grade and now has the ability to score and opponents must honor and respect her for her shooting talents. She is a three-point shooter.

“Our team struggled with injuries last year and if we can stay healthy this season we can go a long way in our efforts,” said Tucker.

Sparkman

Allowing more points than scored per game last season was truly an unusual occurrence for the perennial powerhouse Sparkman Lady Senators. Patrick Delay, in his ninth year as head coach, knows last year’s squad was a bit unusual and with three of those starters returning for the 2020-2021 campaign this new squad will be much improved.

“Our defense should really be good as last year’s team was above average in that area and if we can learn to put the ball in the basket we should be good by the area and post-season play comes around,” said Delay. “We’re undersized and young, but with time we will be good.”

The three returning starters will anchor the team, which features five seniors, four juniors and two sophomores and freshman each. The starting five will feature Jayla Fuller (F/G, 5-9, Sr.) who is the best post defender on the team. She’s versatile and has the best shot at blocking shots; Kennedy Langham (G, 5-7, So.) is an excellent defender and can score. Delay indicated the team is looking for her score again as she led the team in scoring as a freshman last season; Emma Bailey (G, 5-3, Sr.) is not only a shooter from the outside, she’s also the spokesperson for the team and lets you know how she stands; Abethany James (G, 5-7, Fr.) started a few games at the tail end of last season and is being looked at to solidify her position at point guard. Delay likes her ability to score in a variety of ways; Denea Washington (F/G, 5-7, Sr.) is regarded as the “muscle” on the team and the “meanest” player on the court with an enforcer type of attitude. She will mix it up with any opponent on the schedule.

“Senior Bridget Johnson (F, 5-10, Sr.) will be the one coming off the bench for us and is probably our best athlete,” said Delay. “She’s had some small college recruits scout her and should help us tremendously,” said Delay.

Fuller, Bailey, Langham and James have all had recruitment opportunities with Langham receiving offers from LSU and North Carolina State while Bailey has already committed to Calhoun Community College to play softball.

“This is a fun team to coach and they are good kids in and out of the classroom,” said Delay. “This team wants to win.”

Madison Academy

The Lady Mustangs of Madison Academy missed a Class 5-A state championship by a single basket losing to Charles Henderson 50-48 in last season’s title game. Gone are All-State players Destinee McGhee and Jaden Langford off the squad that was regarded as one of the best in school history. The 2020-2021 team is much different than the squad that was star-studded and one big way is the fact the program moves up to Class 6-A and will play in Area 16 against Athens, Columbia and Hazel Green.

With three starters returning this season, Mustangs’ head coach Alissa Flowers is looking for a possible return to the State Tournament by way of a different approach with a roster made up of three seniors, one junior, four sophomores, one freshman and one eighth grader, who is an early starter. Flowers said of her team, “I’m excited for my players and I’ve told our seniors this will certainly be a memorable season due in part to the COVID-19 issues as we have been quarantined for two weeks just prior to the season tipoff.”

The five starters for the horses are Libby Privett (G/F, 5-8, Jr.) who is an offensive threat from three places on the court. The triple threat is a distributor for the team and gives the squad great offensive rebounding skills; Halia Morris (F, 5-10, Sr.) is a big threat from the three-point line and is very athletic up and down the floor. “She’s faster than anyone I’ve seen on the court,” said Flowers; Nequoia Adams (G, 5-5, Sr.) who at point guard is a true floor general and according to Flowers, “Is the truest point guard I’ve coached. She’s an extension of me on taking control of what’s on the floor.” She’s also the team’s best defender; Emily Mouser (G, 5-4, 8) will be fun to watch as she’s smallest on the team, but doesn’t care being a big spark for the team. She has a natural at keeping care of the basketball as she has a high IQ; Jordyn Blackwell (F, 5-7, So.) is a three-point threat as a pure shooter and will be posting a high shooting percentage.

Adams, Morris and Privett are being watched by college recruiters as Adams has verbally committed to Faulkner and Privett has had offers from both USA and UNA.

“We can both run and setup our offense as we have the freedom to do with the players we have,” added Flowers. “I’m a firm believer of man-to-man defense, but I think this team can also play a more zone.”

Flowers was busy during the off season as she currently has a five-month old son who was born during the hot of the 2020 summer.

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