Reeves earns COY in first season as varsity head coach

Published 2:00 pm Thursday, March 22, 2018

For years, Clifton Reeves served as an assistant coach for the Keith Bears basketball team under the tutelage of Tommy Tisdale.

However, his time for waiting came to an end when Tisdale took over as the school’s principal and Reeves was named the new head coach.

In his first year as the varsity head coach, Reeves and his team went 19-9 and reached the regional finals in the state playoffs.

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A winning record and a deep playoff run in his rookie season has earned Reeves the Times-Journal’s Boys Basketball Coach of the Year.

“It’s a humbling experience and a blessing,” Reeves said. “It’s something I didn’t really imagine happening this year, but I’m thankful and happy to accept it.”

Since it was an internal promotion, Reeves was already familiar with the players on his team, but taking over the full responsibilities of the head coaching position was new territory for him. He was no longer just helping from the bench, but managing a team.

“It was a challenge at first,” he said. “I had been under Tisdale as an assistant for the past nine years. I had to take over things that he’d normally do, such as game planning, watching film, contacting other coaches and learning the athletes on a different level.”

Even remastering the flow of the game was a different experience for Reeves.  As the season progressed, he had to learn how to remain even-keeled through the ups and downs.

Reeves isn’t the quiet type on the sidelines either. His energy comes out more and more each quarter. His sideline reactions range from throwing his head back in disbelief at a questionable foul call to jumping in excitement after a clutch basket.

“One thing I learned is that your guys are going to feed off your energy as a coach,” he said. “If you’re not into the game, pumping them up and motivating them, then it’s going to be hard for them.”

Early on, the team thought they would be pretty decent. But the team’s confidence grew as they started getting wins against teams like Wilcox, Dallas County and Selma High.

“The players started to buy in,” Reeves said. “As we got into area play and was able to compete with some of the better teams, then we knew we could make a push.”

The Bears were a balanced team and Reeves was able to get the most out of several of his players. Arayvion Jones was a first-team all-county selection, Tyre Webster kept the team alive in the regional semi-final game against Goshen and Kendarius Perry made big three-point shots when the team needed a spark.

“Each player gave everything they had and learned their roles to go out and help the team throughout the season,” Reeves said. “I think that’s how we won a lot of games this year, because each of them did what they could do.”

Even though they were just a game away from advancing to the Final Four in Birmingham, the Bears had a successful season under Reeves.

“We accomplished a lot of the things we wanted to accomplish,” he said. “Making the Final Four was something that we didn’t really think would happen, but in the moment we enjoyed the run and kept playing hard.”