STLACAUGA, Ala. – The last time the Sylacauga High School basketball team took the floor it left with a state championship trophy.
The Aggies defeated Eufaula in an overtime thriller in March at the BJCC in Birmingham to win the program’s second state tile in history and first since 1988.
On Wednesday the Aggies began their ‘summer camp’ series, playing 40 minute exhibition games against 7A Hoover, 6A Opelika, and reigning 3A state champs, Plainview.
Considering the pinnacle of success the team achieved last season, there is literally no where to go but down from where the Aggies stood when the final buzzer sounded against Eufaula. The Aggies finished the day 0-3 against but the scores in this game were much less important than the steps the team is taking toward improvement.
The 2018-2019 team will look much different than the state title team which lost seniors Keaton Wilson, Darian Garrett, Erin Bryant, Malik Crawford, Jordan Robinson and Luke Tankersley, making these exhibition games even more crucial.
“We try to put our players against the best competition because in the summer is doesn’t matter if you go 27-0 or 0-27.” SHS Head Coach William Copeland explained. “You find out what’s wrong with the team and what you need to work and do. This summer is designed to put us against the best teams, regardless of classification, to see what we’re made out of. ”
Some familiar faces are returning this year including forward Desmon Jones, center Shannon Grant and guard Malik Powell. All three played valuable minutes as the Aggies worked their way through the 2018 playoffs.
Coach Copeland said younger players will have to step up and make an impact this coming season to maintain success. Keaton Wilson and Luke Tankersley were both sporting championship rings while they watched their former team face off against tough competition Wednesday. Tankersley gave some insight on some younger guys who might be able to take the next step and help the team in the future.
“I think Max Jackson sticks out. He is very skilled player that took a few years off, but I think he’ll be ready to play,” Tankersley explained. “I’ve talked to a lot of people and I think Demarco Campbell will make a big impact.”
Wilson said he is not worried about a young team next year, crediting Copeland’s leadership as a reason the team may not take a step back. “Once this team gets the chemistry right and down pat they’ll be fine,” Wilson said. “There has to be chemistry on and off the court. Coach [Copeland] knows what he’s doing and he’ll lead this team in the right direction.”
The Aggies will have several other opportunities to build the chemistry Wilson spoke of and get the wrinkles out of their game this summer. The team will play June 8 at Hoover High School, June 12 at Mountain Brook High School, June 16 at Prattville High School, June 20 at Birmingham Southern and June 22 at Auburn High School.