It’s been three years since the Long County High School boys basketball team last won a region title.
But it hasn’t been because of a lack of talent.
During the last two years, the Blue Tide have had good teams going into the Region 2-AA tourney, which was apparent when the team made it to the round of 16 in the state playoffs. Yet, for some reason, Long County hasn’t fared well at the region tournament.
Blue Tide coach Deshon Brock wants that to change this year.
"I look for us to finish in the top two of the regular season and our goal is to win the tournament," Brock said. "That will allow us to have two home games in the first and second rounds of the state playoffs. It will not be an easy task. It will take a lot of hard work and dedication from everyone involved in the program to reach that lofty goal."
It’s a goal made loftier by improvement around an already-tough region.
"This year, the competition has gotten better with the expansion of our region," Brock said, noting Vidalia has height; Tattnall returns its star player, and McIntosh County Academy is the defending region champ.
The Tide will need to continue the offensive fireworks if the team wants to contend at both the region and state levels. Last year, the team had the most potent offense in the 2-AA, averaging 65 points a game. This year, the Ludowici team will want to pick up where they left off.
"Robert Reed, Johnnae Jones, Jaylen Futch and Jamal Anderson are the only guys returning off the varsity team that saw any action last year. Robert is going to be asked to carry the load as the starting point guard, and he will have to distribute the ball as well as score on a consistent basis," Brock said. "Jaylan has some offensive skills to his game and we will need him to get to the rim and finish. Jamal played well as a freshman and we will see his minutes drastically increased because he is a natural scorer who can play multiple positions."Last year, the Blue Tide had an overall record of 15-14, a Region 2-AA record of 11-7 and a Sweet 16 appearance in the state play-offs, which, by any standards, means a pretty successful year.
But the team also started out losing seven of its first eight games, and Brock doesn’t want to repeat those mistakes this year.
"Last year, our kids bounced back after a disappointing regular season. We let some games slip away that we should have won," he said. "We can ill afford to have a repeat performance."
Instead, Brock expects to see his team back among the region’s leaders.
"I look for us to get back on the winning track and compete every night and play basketball," he said. "My goals remain the same, to win it all at the end of the year."
The Blue Tide boys, along with the girls varsity team and both JV teams, will play Saturday in the annual Blue and White game. Tipoff is at 5 p.m. at the Long County High School gymnasium.