Thursday, October 12, 2006
Basketball tips off next week
By BARRY BURLESON
Marshall County’s two non-football-playing schools tip off the basketball season next week.
Potts Camp hosts Ingomar Monday, Oct. 16, while H.W. Byers travels to face Benton County rival Ashland.
It will be the debut of two new head coaches in the boys’ games - Brian Smith at Potts Camp and Sylvester Kilgore at H.W. Byers.
Smith comes to Potts Camp after leading Raleigh High School in South Mississippi to 100 wins in the last six years. He replaces Chris Ferrell, now an assistant principal at Byhalia Elementary and Middle School.
“The kids have been working hard,” Smith said. “I’m anxious to see how they react to the real deal.”
Six seniors are gone from last year’s 16-16 Cardinal squad that lost in the first round of Class 2A North State.
Two players back with significant playing time are seniors Jacobye Davis and Justin Smith. Smith averaged 23 points per game last year and Smith 12.
“We’re inexperienced as far as playing time, but we’re excited about the season ahead,” Smith said. “We’re ready to play somebody.”
At Byers, Kilgore takes over for a legend, Gerone Kirkland, who retired with 813 career victories in 40 years. Kirkland spent seven seasons at Byers and took the Lions to the state tournament five straight times before a step up to Class 2A last year.
Kilgore, who grew up in Holly Springs, led the Byers junior high teams last year. He coached eight years at Longview Middle School in Memphis.
The Lions finished 19-15 in 2005-06 and were ousted in the quarter-finals of North State.
“Preseason practice has been pretty inconsistent,” Kilgore said. “We’ve had some injuries and sickness. The guys who have been there have been doing their best.”
He said experience returns with four of five seniors, two juniors and two sophomores who saw playing time last season. But a new coach means some changes on offense.
“We’re in a position of learning as we go,” Kilgore said. “We will try to get ready for the heart of our season.”
He said his team should be well conditioned after participating in recent cross country meets.
Byers and Potts Camp girls
The Lady Lions have never made the trip to Jackson for the state tournament, and coach Jason Thompson is hoping this is the year. He returns all five starters, and his team had lots of success at camps over the summer.
“There’s a lot of added pressure this year,” Thompson said.
Starters returning are Rachel Jones, Ciara Seldon, Marian Parker, Brittany Todd and Simone Ryan. Four key reserves, who played in 90 percent of the games, are also back. They are Lanika Hale, Simone Gorman, Bianka Seldon and Latasha Anderson.
The Lady Lions finished 19-14 last season and lost in the first round of Class 2A North State competition.
At Potts Camp, coach Kevin Harris said he will put “by far” his youngest team ever on the floor. Eight out of 15 players are ninth and 10th graders.
“In many instances we will probably play 10, 11 or 12 people,” he said.
“I have three or four combinations of kids I like on the floor. We will play at a faster pace.”
Two and a half starters return - Kenyotta Jenkins and Jasmine Harmon started every game, while Barneka Lewis started about 15.
Cassandra Hendricks, who saw a good bit of playing time last year, is also back, as is Samantha Nance, who started a few games in the second half of the season.
The two seniors providing loads of leadership on the court and in the classroom are Bethany Moore and Lovetta Martin.
“They’re two of the best leaders I’ve ever had,” he said. “They set a positive tone for the team.”
A newcomer from Galena is Shanekqua Johnson, who Harris said defends well.
“Last year we battled a lot of injuries and that forced us to have some depth,” he said. “Hopefully, that will pay off this year. A lot of young kids got some valuable experience.”
The schedule is tough, as usual, and Harris said the division “is a killer.”
Those district powerhouses include the likes of Belmont, Byers and Ashland.
“Everybody on the schedule is improved,” Harris said.
“Were excited about the season. We’re looking forward to getting it started.”
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