By Gene Stanley/Sports Correspondent
After last season’s “total gutting of a rebuilding year,” the Sardis High boys basketball team is starting to get back to the point that coach Tracy Cheek wants to see.
Returning to an uptempo press and run game is Cheek’s main priority.
“I like to have that kind of team,” he said. “Last year, I had to learn how to coach differently. But we’re getting back there. When we’re playing uptempo, that’s when I’m most comfortable as a coach.”
Leading the Lion attack this season is point guard Jesse Hubbard, who Cheek describes as “a little slow right now.”
That’s understandable, as Hubbard strained his ACL in football and is still wearing a brace.
Speaking of the pigskin, seven of Cheek’s 10 players were members of the school’s gridiron gang, so getting into basketball shape is still a priority.
The two other guards are Will Scott and Brett Rains. Cheeks said both are good shooters and good crunch time players.
Kailion Robeson and Jared Shirley play in the post and they stand 6-4 and 6-2, respectively.
“We tried to play Robeson as a wing player last year and it didn’t work out too well, for him or for the team,” Cheek said. “Now he’s coming into his own as a post player. Shirley is still as consistent as ever. He’s a steady player who you can count on.”
Scott is the Lions’ leading scorer, with Robeson right behind. Scott is also an 80 percent free throw shooter.
Edwin Turk and Dylan Bolding are the first two players off the bench.
“They get as many minutes as the starters in a lot of games,” Cheek said. “They do a tremendous job off the bench.”
Jacob Maddox is another player who comes off the bench. Right now, his 3-point shooting average is higher than his field goal percentage. That comes mainly from him driving the basket, trying to draw fouls.
Cheek gives nine of his 10 players substantial playing time. The 10th player, Matthew Dunn, is described as “the most coachable player on the team. He never complains and is happy with his role.”
Sardis moves up to Class 4A this season and is competing in Area 12 along with Crossville, Douglas and Guntersville.