Young, “hungry” Panthers prepare for hoops seasonPublished 7:06pm Wednesday, July 24, 2013
In the third quarter of last season’s Class 3A state championship game, Southside had a 17-point lead and appeared to be on its way to celebrating a title.
Unfortunately for the Panthers, Madison Academy’s furious 38-14 rally in the final quarter and a half allowed the Mustangs to steal the championship.
This fall a Southside team with new faces will try to put the Panthers in position to make another deep run in the state playoffs.
Although the Panthers lost four senior starters off of last season’s team in Sammarkus Jones, Jeffery Mack, Octavius Gulley, and Robert Sullivan, high expectations remain.
During the offseason, Southside has participated in playdates at Selma, Marion Military Institute, and Montgomery Academy. Head coach Cedric Brown said the playdates let his players to get on-court time and allows him a sneak peak at what his team will look like when basketball season rolls around.
“I got a chance to look at some of the younger guys to see what we will be working with this upcoming fall,” Brown said. “It is going to be fun.”
One of the bright points for Southside this upcoming season is the return of starting point guard Jhlandis Sullivan, who Brown said he is expecting big things out of.
“We’ve got the leader of our offense back [Sullivan],” Brown said. “We are [also] expecting big things from one of our [other] senior guards Je’von Hall, who was our sixth man of the year last year. He has the capabilities to average 20 plus points this year.”
Outside of Sullivan and Hall, the rest of the team will be much younger and less experienced.
“I’m expecting the guys to grow up kind of fast. I think these younger guys have been playing with me for two years,” Brown said. “I think we will be having roughly about seven or eight juniors this year; only two of which that have played varsity basketball and had a chance to help us on that championship run.”
Brown said although his team will look different, he expects them to be stronger in certain aspects of the game.
“We will be smaller, but we are expecting to be much quicker,” Brown said. “We are going to have our growing pains, but that comes with the process. As long as we take care of what we should take care of in area play, we will be fine.”
Although only a few returning players contributed in large roles during the Panthers run to the state championship game last season, Brown said he can see the drive in his team to make it back after falling points short of a championship.
“Well, the returning players are kind of hungry. They don’t let the guys that are moving up lag,” Brown said. “They kind of push them, because they know exactly what it took last year to get to that point.”
The Panthers head coach says this season “will be a challenge” but after last season’s success, he cannot wait for the arrival of basketball season. Most of the month of July has been focused on football, but when school starts back players that do not play football will start lifting weights and begin preparation for basketball season.
“We are looking forward to starting preseason workouts when school gets back in,” Brown said.