The Valdosta Daily Times
The Lowndes basketball teams will open their 2012-13 seasons tonight when they visit Thomas County Central in Thomasville. The Vikettes will play at 6 p.m, with the boys’ game scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. tip-off.
Both Lowndes teams open their home schedules next week, when they host the 8th Annual Charles Cooper Memorial Tip-off Tournament.
The Vikettes and Vikings open Region 1-6A play Jan. 5 at Valdosta.
Vikettes building team around Brown
After graduating eight seniors and sending six off to play college basketball, Lowndes girls basketball coach Shan Garner is building his team around junior sensation Tasia Brown.
Brown, a lengthy 5-foot-11 athlete, averaged 11.1 points and 8.2 rebounds as a sophomore last season. This year, Brown’s numbers are expected to be even higher.
In Friday’s scrimmage, Brown’s impressive dominance showed, recording 20 points and 15 rebounds in an overtime win over Pebblebrook.
“We are going to move her,” Garner said. “She is the type of kid that can rebound from anywhere.”
Overall, Garner said the 2012-13 Vikettes will be young and inexperienced — in terms of playing time — but will still have a chance to compete for the Region 1 championship.
“Everyone is new on the floor, except Tasia,” Garner said. “Even though some of them are seniors, floor time is what makes being a senior. ... The future looks bright, but I am not turning my back on this year. I think we will be a contender. It depends on how much we grow at the point guard position and how many touches I can get Tasia, because in region play, of course, it is going to be a little harder to get her the ball.”
In the scrimmage against Pebblebrook, Garner said he felt like his team grew up from the experience of playing an Atlanta-area based team.
“I’m glad I took them. It was crazy, it was wild,” Garner said. “We had to play an overtime to win it. ... They showed a lot of resolve, a lot of toughness.”
With a young team, Garner said the key for his team will be defense.
“That has always been something we’ve hung our hat on,” Garner said. “I think we gave up 39 (to Pebblebrook). I’ll take that all year long.”
Vikings turn to experienced guards this year
The Lowndes Vikings lost three experienced post players from last year’s basketball team. This year, guards Justin Williams, Tremayne Tippins and Kenny Moore will all be the go-to guys for head coach Kingston Clark and the Vikings.
“Those guys, at some point in time, started, so with their leadership, I’m expecting big things out of those three,” Clark said. “They’ve been in the program the last four years, so I’m expecting big things.”
While the guard play is something the Vikings will lean on this season, the post play is one of the obstacles that Lowndes faces, according to Clark.
“None of those guys have really been in the program for a long period of time,” Clark said. “So we’ll just have to wait to see.”
Despite the mixture of newcomers and experienced players, the Vikings had a solid showing over the summer, winning the Valdosta State University Team Camp in June.
“I’m hoping that doesn’t give us any false hope,” Clark said. “One of the teams we beat in the tournament was Brunswick. It was something we could build off. If nothing else, it gives us an opportunity to say, ‘Yeah, we can compete.’ With what we lost last year, in Josh (Clemons) and Kevin (Willard) and (Josh) Cooper, that was a big part of our offense, probably 80 percent.”
One thing that will affect the Vikings this season will be size. Clark said the team lacks tall players.
“We don’t have any size, and our team speed is not what we are accustomed to, so we are going to have to bond together this year,” Clark said.
The Vikings’ summer success was because of young players stepping up to play tough teams like Brunswick, which has joined Region 1-6A and will face Lowndes twice this season.
Playing tough region teams will be a theme this season for the Vikings, who open Region 1 play Jan. 5 at Valdosta.
Tift County has the most attention among teams within the region, due to the presence of Division I prospects on its roster, while reigning region champion Valdosta has nearly every key player from last year’s roster back for this season.
“Valdosta won the region last year and (Coach Antonio Haynes) has all his key guys back, so it is going to be a tough road,” Clark said. “I just feel like when it comes to mid-season and all of our guys are back from football and we get some playing time back under our belts, maybe we can start to compete. It is going to be tough, especially with Tifton and the talent they have.”