L-R: #2 RIYAH MANLEY SENIOR- POINT GUARD, #10 JAMARIAN BRYANT SENIOR- FORWARD, #23 BROOKE MCCLELLAN SENIOR- FORWARD, #4 CLAIRE GILREATH SENIOR- FORWARD
Boys: Tommy Lewis
Girls: Jason Shields
The tradition of Coosa basketball is strong. Gold balls and memories of legendary players adorn the trophy cases to tell the tales. Restoring that standard is the mission both boys’ and girls’ teams are on in 2023.
The girls finished 5-22 last season, with 3 of those wins coming in region play. As head coach Jason Shields continues to build the program, the focus is on learning how to win.
“I hate losing more than I like winning,” says Shields. “The first year I was here, it was just a battle to make sure everyone was showing up to practice. We don’t have to worry about that anymore. The commitment level and competitiveness are there now. We want to be playing when nobody else is, but we have to win the daily battle of being consistent and learning how to be winners.”
They will lean on a few upperclassmen in Brooke McClellan and Claire Gilreath who are both flexible at the 4/5 position. Riyah Manley will take over the point guard position and has been making strides running the offense, which will focus on ball movement, clock management, and creating/taking good shots.
“Unless we have a good shot early, we are going to squeeze that shot clock on most of our possessions,” says Shields. “You learn to develop your system based on the players you have and their strengths and weaknesses. We don’t want to settle for bad shots, and we will focus on moving the ball in the half-court offense to create those opportunities. “
The boys are coming off an 11-15 season in which they competed well against the majority of their region opponents. To get to that next level, players like Senior Jamarion Bryant and sophomore point guard Khyden Turner will need to step up as leaders.
“Those two guys lead a little more with how they play than how vocal they are and we are working on that,” says Head Coach Tommy Lewis. “I am expecting them to lead, and they do it in their own way. There aren’t really any easy games on our schedule, especially when we get into region play. So, we will try to win the games we should and steal a few we shouldn’t, and those guys will play a large role in our success.”
With several of the key players on this Eagles squad just finishing up football season, the team is just getting into their practice routine with the full roster, but the work they put in together back in the off-season is something coach Lewis was grateful to have.
“June is such an important month for us because we get a lot of opportunities to play as a full team,” says Lewis. “The goal is always to make the playoffs, and we want to get back to competing for a region championship. We can do that here. The talent and the support of the community is here. We just have to keep building.”