Coastal Crew Rebels basketball coach Ernie Walthour said his team had one of its busiest and most successful seasons to date.
In addition to several Amateur Athletic Union tournament wins, the 16U Rebels had big showings at the AAU national tournament with a 4-2 record, the AAU showcase where they ended 4-1, and 4-1 finishes at the Bob Gibbons Classic in Atlanta and the King of the Rock tourney in New York.
Walthour said they barely took a week off during the season.
“We’ve been going real hard since February,” Walthour said. “As you know, we went to New York and we’ve been to Atlanta a couple of times and we’ve been in a lot of big tournaments this year. We’ve traveled more this year than we have ever done.”
Walthour said the “boys really left everything they had on the floor” during their final two tournaments in Orlando last week.
He said they might have done a bit better at nationals, but one of his starters was pulled from the game after suffering a concussion in bracket play.
On the upside, his players were noticed “Radford College of Jacksonville has expressed an interest in some of our players, and we had someone from Georgia Southern … GSU might be offering one our players,” Walthour said. “We are just waiting on some more results to come in, all the reports from all the kids they were scouting, but our kids were getting some looks.”
Walthour, who formed the Rebels in 1993, has coached this group for the past three seasons.
“I plan to see this group through graduation. … We built a good team and we should have a good opportunity to get some scholarships next year,” he said.
The Rebels had players from Bradwell Institute, Liberty County High School, McIntosh Academy, Statesboro High and First Presbyterian Christian Academy.
Walthour, also the head coach at FPCA, said Highlanders Herbert Roberts, Domonique Kirkley and Ahmad Muhammad will return to FPCA for the next basketball season but will spend some time on the gridiron first.
“Our kids are definitely going to be playing football for the school, and they are excited about it,” Walthour said. “We have a real good coach in Andy Yanzetich and we support him. It will make them tougher in a sense, and they will be lifting weights and staying in shape compared to just not playing until the season gets here. It will be real good for us to have them in the weight room … it will be good for us when we start playing basketball.”
Walthour said his assistant coach was a huge help.
“I want to thank my assistant coach David Linderman for the great job, hard work and countless hours he has dedicated to the program,” he said. “He really does a lot for me and the program.”
Walthour said they plan to set the bar even higher next year and are working with organizers to send the Rebels to a tournament in Las Vegas.
He said bigger tournaments will offer his kids better opportunities.
“We’ve seen a lot of kids go off to college or go into the military and do a lot of good things and that is what our program is set out to do … get these kids moving in the right direction and it’s been real rewarding,” Walthour said.
He said the AAU season was supported by Acceptance Motors, Larry Mannion of M&M Motors, Melissa Ray of State Farm, Jay Osteen from Osteen and Osteen Law Firm, Liberty County Sheriff Steve Sikes, Jerry Kicklighter, Rebels coach Mike Brown, Liberty County Bonding Company, Liberty Chrysler and Linda Shumm.