Keith High incoming sophomore John Pettway makes a pass during the Bears’ regional championship game earlier this year against St. Jude. --file photo
Keith High incoming sophomore John Pettway makes a pass during the Bears’ regional championship game earlier this year against St. Jude. -- file photo

Keith looking forward to upcoming season after summer work

Published 10:09pm Monday, August 5, 2013

The Keith Bears boys basketball team has had a busy offseason, participating in four playdates and gaining on-court experience that can only be beneficial to their hopes of making a deep playoff run.

The Bears played games at Selma High School, Montgomery Military Institute, Montgomery Academy, and the University of Alabama during the month of June

“We saw a lot of different schools. Different styles. Different sizes,” Keith basketball head coach Tommy Tisdale said. “Normally throughout the summer we try to play over our level of competition. We play a lot of 5A, 6A schools throughout the summer, which we compete very well against them.”

With a lot of experience coming back, Tisdale said his team spent a lot of the offseason trying to find a leader that would grab the team and take charge.

All-state honorable mention Anfernee Simmons is one of the players that has stepped up and taken on a leadership role, Tisdale said.

“He is not very vocal, but he does a lot of leading by example. He has done that this summer, he has done a lot of leading by example,” Tisdale said. “I’m very excited to see his progression throughout his senior year.”

For Simmons to continue to improve, Tisdale said that he needs to get a little bit stronger.

“He is a slender built kid. We have been in and out of the weight room trying to get him stronger, trying to get him a little bit more muscular build,” Tisdale said. “[Also], his will to take a game over. I honestly don’t know if he knows how talented he can be.”

With a lot of talent coming back, Tisdale said like usual, expectations are high.

“We expect to be in the thick of things, but those are expectations in Orrville every year. Every coach, I assume, wants to play for championships,” Tisdale said. “We want to field a competitive team night in and night out, year after year. I think we’ve been on track doing that, and I have a nucleus of guys coming back.”

One other big concern this offseason was an injury suffered by point guard Walton Young, who missed the majority of offseason workouts. Tisdale said the injury gave his team a chance to build some depth at guard, because other guys received more playing time.

“It gave time to get my guard rotation a lot stronger than it has been,” Tisdale said. “Of course, we lack in size, but I have a few football players and a few guys that will go down on the block.”

Among others coming back are John Pettway, a three-year starter who will be a sophomore, and Demond Holmes, who Tisdale says lacks in size but is not afraid to play on the block.

Last season, the Bears finished No. 4 in the final Alabama Sportswriter Association rankings. The Bears fell to St. Jude in the Central Regional title game.

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