Attention turns to the local junior-varsity girls’ and boys’ basketball teams Saturday during the 21st annual Donell Woods Tournament.
The tourney will take place at Bradwell Institute, Lewis Frasier and Snelson-Golden middle schools.
The tourney is named after Lady Tiger girls’ basketball coach Faye Baker’s cousin, a former youth mentor and high-school coach at the old Liberty High and later Bradwell Institute.
Baker said the tournament seems a fitting way to honor the memory of her cousin, who was stricken with cancer and died in his 40s.
“When I was coming through high school here at BI, he was coaching boys’ basketball … that I remember well, and I remember what a great coach he was and what a great rapport he had with the youth and the kids,” Baker said. “They all looked up to him and they respected him and he went over and beyond the call of duty to help these kids excel, and that is what I remember the most about him.”
Baker said she was too young to remember her cousin’s youthful days, but her three older brothers — Henry, Derrell and Ronald — always shared stories about him.
“His was an athletic family,” she said. “I know he was involved in basketball and baseball … I’m not sure if he was involved in football, but he was coaching in high school when my older brother came through as a student at the old Liberty High. I’m sure he was very influential with my brothers as far as getting them involved in sports. Donell’s brother, Harold Woods, was also a great baseball pitcher back in the day … sports was just something that was just instilled in our family. We grew up right here in Liberty County, and it was even more rural than it is now, so that is basically all we did growing up … go outside and play sports … that’s how we spent our time … you got to pretty good at it after a while.”
Baker also was an accomplished athlete before becoming the girls’ coach.
Woods, Henry Baker, Derrell Baker, Faye Baker and Woods’ son Donny are all inductees at the Liberty County Athletic Hall of Fame.
In the past, the Lady Tigers’ JV squad, coached by Dana King, has taken the top prize or second place. Baker said she will be watching from the sidelines, evaluating the girls who could eventually make their way to the varsity level.
“We are looking for development … there is one thing that you can’t teach and that is experience on the floor,” Baker said. “This gives them floor experience in a tournament atmosphere, and we will see how they respond, but it is nothing but a positive experience for them. This is a good time for these younger kids to showcase their talents.”
Bracket play is expected to start by mid-day and the championship games will be held at Bradwell, beginning tentatively at 3 p.m.
Games at BI
• 10 a.m. — Bradwell vs. Long County (girls)
• 11:15 a.m. — Bradwell vs. Long County (boys)
• 12:30 p.m. — Winner of Glynn/Wayne Co. vs. Bradwell (girls)
• 1:45 p.m. — Winner of Johnson/Glynn vs. Bradwell (boys)
Games at Snelson-Golden
• 10 a.m. — Johnson vs. Glynn Academy (boys)
• 11:15 a.m. — Wayne County vs. Ware County (boys)
Games at Lewis Frasier
• 10 a.m. — Glynn Academy vs. Wayne County (girls)
• 11:15 a.m. — Ware County vs. Johnson (girls)