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Experience key as Hellgren readies Tigers
Bradwell starts basketball season Friday by hosting LCHS Panthers
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Bradwell Tigers boys’ basketball head coach Rhett Hellgren enters his second season at the helm of the Tigers, looking improve on last season’s .500 record
The Tigers, 13-13 last season, return virtually the same team from last year, when most players were juniors and sophomores.
“Most of the starters last season were underclassmen, and if they did not start they got a lot of time on the floor, which will certainly be beneficial to us this season,” Hellgren said.
Senior guards JaMorris Hill, Malcolm Dingle and Miguel Pineda will lead the Tigers.
Last season, the Tigers employed a guard-oriented offense that featured fast-paced, fluid motion and generated some points, but also created too many turnovers because of the quickness of play.
“We got some good shots last year but this year, we want to be more patient and find better shots,” Hellgren said. “If someone catches a pass for a good shot, if we understand that a better shot is one more pass away, we need to be more patient to take the high-percentage shot.”
The Tigers’ standard is tough defense. That helped to keep Bradwell competitive and created turnovers to jump start the offense. “I tell our players that we are going to play 84 feet of defense,” Hellgren said. “We are always going to hang our hat on defense. Strong defense is essential to winning consistently. This year, we will still be a primary man-to-man team, but we will show some variety this season.”
Bradwell hasn’t had any head-toppers in a few years, which limits a team’s offensive schemes. More importantly, teams that lack size often get beat in rebounding.
“Last year, we didn’t get as many rebounds as we would have liked to,” Hellgren said. “When a 5-foot-8 guard is trying to block out a 6-foot-6 forward, it’s kind of hard for the guard to get the rebound. We have been working on this more and with what size we do have with Daylan Baker and Hubert Anderson, I think that will give us an opportunity to get more boards on both ends of the floor and give an inside game, too.”
Though size, rebounds and turnovers were problems that Bradwell needed to fix in the offseason, the biggest issue, according to Hellgren, was depth.
“We just were not very deep on the bench last season. Not having depth, a lot of times we just wore down in the last part of close games because we didn’t have enough reserves to get players a rest,” he said. “This season, we had a lot of players who got experience last season in junior varsity and varsity and they have improved over the summer, so that should help us.”
One of the biggest reliefs for Hellgren will be that he is only coaching basketball instead of serving double duty as head boys basketball coach and head baseball coach.
“Last year was tough to get straight — from basketball to baseball was rough,” he said. “This season, I am only doing basketball, so that helps. Plus, Henry Blair will be a varsity-only, dedicated assistant, along with Jeff Polk, coaching junior varsity, and Kent Wilkinson will coach the freshman team. Overall, I am really pleased with the coaching staff, and I am looking forward to a great year.”
Region 3A-AAAAA again will be stocked with good competition.
The Tigers finished 9-5 in the region last season.
“Effingham has lost all of the players they had, except the big man. Jenkins will still be very tough and have some size. Ware, Glynn and Richmond Hill will be competitive. We have to be ready for every team in the region,” Hellgren said.
Bradwell hosted Coffee County for a scrimmage Saturday. The Tigers open the regular season Friday by hosting Liberty County.

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