Great Mills boys hoops shoots for state title run
Burrell has big goals for Hornets boys hoops team this winter
Walking out onto the court for his third year as head boys basketball coach at Great Mills, Jeff Burrell commands respect from his players.
His coaching style is one of relaxed confidence, and if he sees a player not hustling, the whole team runs the length of the court and back.
His team is ready for more success, especially after last season was cut short with a narrow loss in the Class 3A South Region championship game.
Under Burrell’s leadership, the Hornets are excited to see what they can accomplish both on the court and in the classroom this winter.
“I’m excited about everything from the first practice,” Burrell said. “The only thing I wasn’t excited for was cuts because that’s kind of an emotional thing. I wanted to see how the new players would come in. I wanted to see how excited the community would be coming to see the games. I’m excited for the competition in the SMAC. I’m excited for our new guys, to get a chance to play in the nest. It’s a big deal getting a chance to play at Great Mills.”
With two seasons already under his belt as coach, Burrell has big goals for his Hornets.
After a 12-11 record during the 2016-17 campaign, he led the team to a 19-4 overall mark and a perfect 12-0 record in Southern Maryland Athletic Conference Chesapeake Division last season.
“Last year was my second year and it was just blast,” he said. “Everything from the stress to the success. We had guys last year that were hardnosed, hard-working and humble kids. They loved the game, and I’m excited to send Demetrius Barnes on to college. That was a blessing that
he’s gone Division I. I’m excited to see Devon Kilmer join the Navy. Those things I’m excited about last year, seeing how good men develop and do things in their life, and putting a banner up in Great Mills High School that’s a big deal for the SMAC championship.”
The Hornets’ returning players are just as excited to take another run at a state title, and another highly coveted banner to hang in the Great Mills’ gymnasium.
“You always want the same success, but every year is different,” Burrell said. “There’s a few players to be excited about. You’ve got Dominic Brooks, he’s a junior. Jerrell Bonds is another
junior that just came from JV. And then our seniors overall. We have a pretty deep senior class this year, and it’s cool to be able to see them go from freshman with me to seniors and go full circle.”
One of these returning players from last year is Brooks, a 6-foot-7 junior power forward and wing player.
“We had a great record last year,” Brooks said. “Last year we started off kind of slow with different players and different schools. And we had to click and stuff, but we had a lot of young players coming up that were on JV still. So we had a good season. We had to learn a lot and towards the end of the season we were
ready for anybody. I’m most excited about the new players that we’ve got coming up from JV. They’ve learned a lot and we all seem ready. My personal goal is to win the state championship, and SMAC behind us. I love blocking shots and playing defense.”
If you ask Burrell about his lineup, there is not an ounce of stress in his voice, as he doesn’t have a definite answer even with the first game approaching fast.
“We don’t have a starting lineup yet,” Burrell said. “Every single day we play for a jersey. There’s five that come on the court every game I guess. But they earned it that day.”
Burrell’s coaching style is something that he developed with years of experience and he knows how to feel out a new team each season.
“I just stick around and enjoy some of it. I’m into it. I’m the exciting coach that the referee has to keep telling back away coach from the line,” he said.
“I’m the guy that’s excited when things are going good, scrambling my guys, high-fiving, and when things are going bad, I’m kind of thinking ways that we can turn things around a bit. I start calming my boys down and finding a different strategy to be successful.”
When faced with the task of leading his players to victory, Burrell wants his team to achieve in the classroom as well.
“One of the biggest obstacles this season will be maintaining that good GPA,” he said. “We are blessed to have a 3.4 on average GPA. That’s good to have at Great Mills, so that will be our biggest challenge. On the court, basketball is basketball. Most teams run similar defenses, the kids actually get excited to walk away with big stories, but I just prepare for success and enjoy the ride.”
The Hornets are scheduled to play their first game of the season at 6:30 p.m. Friday at North Point.
Great Mills basketball players jump in a drill at an early practice last week to start off the 2018-19 season. The Hornets are looking to make a further run at states this winter under third-year head coach Jeff Burrell.