2016-2017 High School Boys’ Bas­ket­ball Pre­view

The Covington News - - SPORTS & LIVING - GABRIEL STOVALL gsto­vall@cov­news.com

Hoops sea­son is al­ready upon us, and with that we want to take time to get a sneak peek at our three GHSA bas­ket­ball pro­grams be­fore we get too far into year.

This week we will of­fer a pre­view for Al­covy, East­side and Newton’s boys’ teams. In next Sun­day’s print edi­tion, we will pre­view the girls’ teams. Make sure you visit our web­site, cov­news. com, through­out the week for player and team fea­ture sto­ries and game cov­er­age of these teams, as well as our pri­vate school squads. AL­COVY TIGERS

Coach: Mack Hard­wick, in his third sea­son.

2015-16 Record: 4-21 over­all, 1-10 in Re­gion 2-AAAAAA

2015-16 State ment: None.

Key Play­ers Lost: Coach Hard­wick said his team lost five se­niors from last sea­son due to grad­u­a­tion but that the brunt of his team’s tal­ent will re­turn.

Key Play­ers Re­turn­ing: Koby Perry G; Car­na­cion Cosby (F/C); Ter­rell Steel, Jay­lan Wy­att and Jay­lan Mid­dle­brooks.

Key Games on the Sched­ule: East­side (Nov. 12); Her­itage (Jan. 3)

Coaches Out­look: Coach Mark Hard­wick knows what he has from his vet­er­ans. But he be­lieves that the key to im­prove­ment from last year’s 4-21 mark is the abil­ity to get pro­duc­tion from his younger, tal­ented un­der­class­men. Go­ing into his third sea­son, Hard­wick said he wants to Tourna- con­tinue build­ing upon his em­pha­sis on de­fense, fun­da­men­tals and the abil­ity to con­sis­tently ex­e­cute plays.

Coach Says: “This year I want to make sure we’re con­cen­trat­ing on de­fense be­cause if they’re not con­cen­trat­ing on de­fense, I couldn’t care less about all the other of­fen­sive ac­co­lades that they can man­age to ac­com­plish. That’s be­cause I feel like it’s de­fense that’s go­ing to win games and win cham­pi­onships for us. These kids who have been in my sys­tem a lit­tle longer, I’m re­ally look­ing to see how sopho­mores last year will look this year as ju­niors. I’m also look­ing at some guys who were fresh­men last year that will make more im­pact as sopho­mores. Our record wasn’t what I’d like it to be last year, so this year I want to see more team ca­ma­raderie and team bas­ket­ball. Fun­da­men­tals are key. One strength I do think we have is lead­er­ship from guys like se­nior Koby Perry. Some of those foot­ball guys like him are lead­ers and they’ve shown that on the foot­ball field, and I want to see them bring that over to the foot­ball court.” EAST­SIDE EA­GLES

Coach: Brent Wren, in his third sea­son.

2015-16 Record: 2010 over­all, 10-5 in Re­gion 4-AAAA

2015-16 State Tour­na­ment: Lost 70-68 to Westover in first round.

Key Play­ers Lost: Isa­iah Miller (Trans­ferred to Newton); Joshua Cam­mon (Trans­ferred to Tucker)

Key Play­ers Re­turn­ing: Keion­dre Perry SG; Dez Dyer G; Josh Wil­son, PG; Jesse Walden.

Key New­com­ers: PG Tor­rie Craw­ford; SG Jerry Mays.

Key Games on the Sched­ule: vs. Newton (Dec. 2); vs. Wood­ward Academy (Dec. 10); vs. Henry County (Dec. 13).

2016-17 Out­look: Coach Brent Wren hon­estly ad­mits that he’s not quite sure what to ex­pect yet from his team. The once highly re­garded trio of Isa­iah Miller, Keion­dre Perry and Josh Cam­mon — play­ers Wren said came in to­gether — was bro­ken up with the trans­fers of Miller and Cam­mon. Perry re­mains, how­ever. And af­ter a 30 point per­for­mance in last week’s scrim­mage, Wren thinks peo­ple are get­ting ready to see ex­actly how dom­i­nant the 6-foot-4 combo guard can be. Dez Dyer didn’t play last year, but his re­turn this year could make up for Miller’s loss. Wren says that though his squad is young in some places, he feels like his team is a more co­he­sive group.

Coach Says: Our team chem­istry is a lot bet­ter,” he said. “One of the dif­fer­ences be­tween last year and this year is that I’ve en­joyed coach­ing this group a whole lot more. Some­times when you have those play­ers that, in a sense, feel they’ve al­ready ar­rived, they be­come kind of dif­fi­cult to coach. But I haven’t had those is­sues with this group. Everything I’ve asked them to do, they’ve done day in and day out. I think we’ll reap the re­wards of that. Our team fo­cus is a whole lot bet­ter this year.” NEWTON RAMS

Coach: Rick Ras­mussen, en­ter­ing his 12th sea­son.

2015-16 Record: 26-5, 8-2 in Re­gion 2-AAAAAA

2015-16 State Tour­na­ment: Lost 64-59 to West­lake in Class AAAAAA Fi­nal Four.

Key Play­ers Re­turn­ing: SG J.D. No­tae; PG Ash­ton Ha­gans, PF DeAn­drae But­ler; G Darvin Jones; C Josh Tukes; C Ar­mani Har­ris.

Key New­com­ers: Isa­iah Miller (trans­ferred from East­side).

Key Games on the Sched­ule: vs. Henry County (Nov. 18); vs. South­west At­lanta Chris­tian (Nov. 19); at East­side (Dec. 2); at Grayson (Dec. 13).

2016-17 Out­look: Coach Rick Ras­mussen may not ex­plic­itly ad­mit it but it’s easy to tell that the elu­sive state cham­pi­onship is some­thing he feels is closer to his grasp than ever be­fore. Last sea­son’s squad was, per­haps, a break­through team of sorts. The Fi­nal Four ap­pear­ance and loss were both boons to the Rams’ off­sea­son prepa­ra­tion. To a man, ev­ery player who ex­pe­ri­enced that heart­break­ing loss to West­lake — a game in which Newton led most of the way — said em­phat­i­cally that they don’t want to ex­pe­ri­ence that again. Play­ers like Ash­ton Ha­gans and Ar­mani Har­ris could be a part of a spe­cial class of 2019. The trans­fer of for­mer East­side sharp­shooter Isa­iah Miller gives the Rams an­other scorer.

Coach Says: “We’ve had a lot of tal­ented teams here, but this team has the chance to be one of our best. I think just from a tal­ent stand­point, this will be the most tal­ented team I’ve had, top to bot­tom. We don’t have the big 6-foot9 guys who can jump over the rim, but I think we scheme well, and we have speed and tal­ent that can off­set our lack of size. You al­ways need some bounces and some breaks in or­der to win it all. And we play in such a tough re­gion, but I think this is the kind of team that can get us there.”

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