Basketball season tips-off next week and perennial power Liberty County High School will have its first test in a scrimmage game Tuesday night against Bradwell Institute.
According to Panthers head coach Willie Graham, he has some top performers from last season ready to hit the hardwood and acquired two more standout players.
Graham thinks the combination of new and old players are going to help his team improve from last year’s 17-8 overall and 6-4 Region 2A-AAAA marks.
The Panthers return Mike Farrior, a key performer for Graham in 2010-11. Last season was Farrior’s first as a Panther after transferring from First Presbyterian Christian Academy.
“We expect him to start,” Graham said. “And we are hoping to get more leadership from him this year.”
Another solid performer from last season ready to hit the court is Sayvon Wilson.
“He’s coming back and hopefully he can give us just as much this year as he gave last year and maybe a little bit more,” Graham said.
This season, the Panthers get former Faith Baptist Christian Academy players Derrick Brooks Jr. and Aaron Scott. Both were standout performers for the Crusaders for the past two seasons.
Last season, Scott averaged 8.1 points per game as a Crusader. He had 64 assists, 11 blocked shots, 78 offensive rebounds, 85 defensive rebounds and 49 steals. Brooks averaged 7.2 points per game and had 68 assists, 11 blocked shots, 84 offensive rebounds, 90 defensive rebounds and 58 steals.
“We expect both of those kids to start for us,” Graham said. “The biggest adjustment they are going to have to make is coming from a private arena to public school basketball. The kids they will play against are more aggressive. We see some of the same things with them that we saw when Mike came in … we play a lot more man (man-to-man) here, it’s a lot more physical and we run a lot harder. There will not be such a big gap on ability levels between one team and the next, and they just need to learn the way the Panthers do things.”
As for the remainder of the bench, Graham said it’s still a work in progress.
He said he still has a few players who will join the team now that football season is over.
“It seems like right now, with the kids that are coming back and the new kids, they are started to mesh real well,” he said. “We expect just a few more bodies coming in from football and then we will see how it goes. We are going to open things up with the game against Bradwell. They are going to come at us and it will be a good scrimmage for us.”
As he looks forward to region games, Graham said there are two opponents he is keeping his eye on.
“Just from knowing who is coming back in other parts of the region, Ware County, at least on paper, seems like they are going to be one of the top teams in our subregion,” Graham said. “Brunswick has some guards coming back so they are going to be tough. But we think we are going to be much better than we were last year. We think we will be in the hunt.”