The Long County Blue Tide basketball team is
looking to have a great 2018-19 season after they made the GHSA AAA state
playoffs last season. The Tide has a unique outlook on their upcoming season
and they certainly seem excited about their chances to compete in what should
be one of the toughest regions in the state.
The boys’ team enjoyed even a lot of success during the 2017-18 season as first-year head coach Reggie Wilkes helped lead the team to a successful 19-11 season with a second place finish in the region tournament and a berth in the Sweet Sixteen of the GHSA AAA state playoffs. The 19 wins are the most for the team since the 2015-16 season when the team went 20-8, won the region 2-AA tournament and made the Sweet Sixteen.
Wilkes returned to Long County last year to replace Deshon Brock, who spent over a decade as head coach of the Blue Tide. Wilkes was last the head basketball coach at Adairsville High School and during his last stint in Ludowici, he led the Long County Middle School boys basketball team to a conference championship. He thought that last season, which was played with the same boys with whom he won the middle school title, went well.
“I had a good group of seniors that I had known previously and coached before so they helped transition me back in and feel welcome,” Wilkes said. “It was nice to have them to help me transition back into the flow of things here in Long County.”
Now that he is settling into his second season, Wilkes knows that he has some work to do after losing some key players from last year including one of the best players in school history: Henry Blair.
Blair, the all-time leading scorer in school history, headed off to continue his basketball career at LaGrange College as did Stephan Hugley at Bob Jones University. Christian Bass was a talented big man and he moved onto Carson-Newman University to continue his football career.
However, Wilkes seems to be excited specifically with his three senior leaders: Nathan Francis, Khy Collins and Dazon Mills. Francis averaged just over 13 points a game last season while being named to the Region 2-AAA Second Team and should be the X factor for the Blue Tide. Collins returns from a knee injury that kept him out all last season. Mills is looking to make a big impact on the court for the Tide in 2018 after playing a relief role for most of his high school career.
“Those seniors, last year, were those role players. This year, we are asking them to step up and become those leaders. We’ve gotta learn how to live without those five seniors that we lost last year,” Wilkes said.
Wilkes also said that their “goal is always to compete in the region and make the state playoffs,” but he also realizes that they are “not blessed with those big-time scorers we had last year.” But he says as long as the team works together and executes what they have been learning all summer and preseason, they should be able to make noise in a tough region with teams that all return highly talented players.
Wilkes mentioned that the five other teams in the region all return juniors from last year and they should all be good teams. He specifically mentioned Brantley County’s Jaylin Williams, an Auburn commit who broke the team’s single-game record for points scored against the Blue Tide last year with 51.
The Tide defeated Bryan County in a scrimmage last Tuesday 54-29 and open the regular season this week. They face off against Glynn Academy at 12:30 p.m. tonight, Monday, Nov. 19 in Jeff Davis’ annual tip off tournament and return to Ludowici for their first home game tomorrow, Tuesday, Nov. 20 as they host South Effingham.