Gleason thinking tradition
Posted: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 12:00 pm
By RANDY CAVIN
Gleason girls’ basketball team is rich in tradition and known for winning, with three state championships and eight trips to the state tournament since the 1989-90 season, the time may be right for the Lady Bulldogs to make another run at the state tournament.
The Gleason boys would also like to be well-known for having a winning tradition, but the Bulldogs have not been as fortunate as the girls. That could change this season with a more experienced team than last season.
Last season was not what the Lady Bulldogs are accustomed to as they finished with a 17-13 record, placed fourth in the District 13A tournament and made it to the Region 7A quarterfinals. Many teams would call that a successful season, but not the Lady Bulldogs.
Gleason returns seven players from last year’s team, each with playing time that should help the Lady Bulldogs put up some wins in a very competitive district. Head coach Joel Ayers says this year’s squad is going to have to play better as a team.
“We are going to have to come together more with the chemistry and build upon some stuff,” Ayers said. “I have always said with us last year and other teams this year, just because you have people coming to play that have before does not necessarily mean you will be good.”
Gleason’s returning players, particularly the three seniors, do have a lot of playing time under their belts. Briana Jones, Jaclyn Montgomery and Kim Quick are experienced, know what it takes to win and will have to provide the leadership the Lady Bulldogs will need.
“That’s the nail on the head right there,” Ayers said about the leadership from his seniors. “How far we go depends upon our leadership. We have to get better at leading and following.”
Jones was the go-to player last season and opponents were keying on her toward the end of the season. She is a legitimate scoring threat from inside with the ability to drive to the basket. Given the chance, she will also take the three-point shot.
“The biggest scoring threat we have had the last two years is Briana Jones,” Ayers said. “That was part of the problem last year was we had tough times at scoring other than her. You have got to spread the floor in order to score.”
Junior Calay Smith came on at the end of last season with her outside shooting and this season people will be much more aware of her as a scoring threat from behind the arc. Ayers said Smith has worked on driving to basket during the offseason to prevent other teams from keying on her from the outside.
“She is going to have to be able to one-dribble and pull up some,” Ayers said. “She is going to have to make people two-guard her, pass the ball and do a good job defensively.”
The Lady Bulldogs consist of three seniors, one junior, three sophomores and two freshmen. Jasmine Taylor, Jasmine McKinney and Courtney Taylor make up the sophomores. Emily Bell and Autumn Faulkner are the freshmen.
“Our girls will have to continue to improve,” Ayers said. “Even the ones that played last year will have to be better than they were last year or we will be in the same boat.”
For the boys, it will all come down to playing with confidence. That is something second-year head coach Jamie Roney said the team lacked during certain stretches of a game.
“The only thing that remains is for them to do is to go out and do in games what they are capable of doing,” he said. “We showed flashes of that last year, but we did not finish games last year. That was one of our big weaknesses.”
Although the Bulldogs won only three games last season, they were still competitive. They only thing holding them back was finishing those games where they were competitive. Roney thinks this team will improve upon that.
“Last year, being my first year here, I saw the guys looking to each other, looking to the sideline a little bit when they got into a tight game at the end of the game and thinking what do we do now,” Roney said. “That is what we talked about all season — knowing how to finish and not thinking about it. Just going out and doing it.”
This year’s team is loaded with nine juniors and only two seniors. Gleason will dress out three sophomores and two freshmen.
Senior post player Austin Perry (6-3) will be the go-to guy on the team, and Roney will be looking for big things out him. Another 6-3 post player, junior Ethan Terrell, is one of those types of players who will go all out on the floor. He is coming off of an injury that he endured back in February, but Roney says Terrell is ready and anxious to get back on the court and be a leader.
“He has gone a full nine months without playing in a game situation,” the Gleason head coach said. “He is a real competitor and he is excited about the chance to be a leader.”
Junior Chris Sumner (6-0) will be running the offense from the point guard position. It will be up to him to guide the Bulldogs as the floor general. He is the most experienced guard Roney has.
Sophomore Keaton Collins (5-7) is another capable point guard who will come off the bench when needed. Roney says he knows how to run the floor and will be vital coming off the bench.
Junior Alex Hahn will be attracting a lot of attention from other teams this season. The 5-11 forward is one of the better shooters in the district.
“He is probably the best shooter we have on our team,” Roney said. “He is one of the top five shooters in our district. Teams will be looking at him a lot. He is going to have to find some ways to score other than from the three-point line.”
The Bulldogs may have to start the season without one of their starters from last season. Junior wing man Dakota Parsons was injured in a motorcycle accident. Parsons is hoping to be ready to play when the season starts, but Roney is not as optimistic about him playing at the beginning of the season. He said Parsons should be ready to go by the second game of the season, but is hoping for the first game.
Roney is very optimistic about his team’s prospects this season. He feels this may be one of the best teams Gleason will be putting on the floor in a long time. He feels his team could be a top four team in the district.
Roney believes Dresden is the top team because it won the district last season. He thinks West Carroll will be vying for the district title because the War Eagles have a lot of returning players. Huntingdon is another team Roney feels will be one of the top teams in the district as well.
The Bulldogs will open the season at West Carroll in the Hall of Champions game Saturday against South Gibson. Published in The WCP 11.13.12