Thursday, July 9, 2009
Young Byers teams working
By BARRY BURLESON
Summer brings a new challenge for Jason Thompson.
“We’re in the rebuilding phase,” said the head coach of the H.W. Byers Lady Lions. “We have a lot of work to do, but we’re excited about the opportunity to improve.”
Byers is looking to fill, as best it can, the big shoes of five seniors who led the team to back-to-back Class 2A state championships. Gone are Rachel Jones, Amanda Jones, Kenyata Gulledge, Ciara Seldon and Symone Gorman.
“We’re trying to give the inexperienced players the opportunity to get some experience (this summer),” Thompson said. “And we want the ones who have experience to gain some unity with the new players who are stepping up.
“We’ve had three incoming freshmen who have played and done well. But it’s a big difference – from five seniors to three freshmen coming in and contributing.”
He said his Lady Lions have played a bunch of games against some quality opponents – at sites like Lafayette, West Union, the University of Memphis and Myrtle.
“We’ve had a great summer,” Thompson said, “against some great competition. I hope the summer will help set us up for another run (at a state crown) in the season upcoming.”
Reclassification this year drops Byers to Class 1A. But the road remains tough. Joining the Lady Lions in the district are Ingomar, Myrtle, Potts Camp, West Union and Blue Mountain.
“They all play us harder because of what we’ve accomplished,” Thompson said.
He urges supporters of the Lady Lions to be patient during the rebuilding process.
“I hope folks will give us the opportunity to improve and jell together and hopefully hit our stride about mid-season next year,” Thompson said.
He thanked principal Gary Hannah, Bank of Holly Springs, the H.W. Byers Booster Club and the schools PTA for their help this summer.
Inexperience is also the challenge on the boys’ side at H.W. Byers. Coach Sylvester Kilgore will have just two seniors.
“It’s been nice going against some other teams this summer so we can see what we have talent-wise,” Kilgore said. “We have a lot of young players – including several eighth and ninth graders.”
He said he has tried to keep things as simple as possible during the summer.
“The young guys gained some valuable time in our system going against some stiff competition,” Kilgore said.
“This let’s me see what we need to focus on the most going into next season.”
The competition has included Holly Springs, Olive Branch, Myrtle, Ingomar and Coldwater.
As for moving down from Class 2A to 1A and the new district, Kilgore said, “If you look closely, it may be more competitive.”
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