The Long County Blue Tide boys’ basketball team had a year for the ages during the 2019-2020 season. The team won the region 2-AAA regular season and tournament championships and advanced to the quarterfinals of the AAA state playoffs, something the team had not done since the 2007-08 season. The team will look to repeat that success this year as a long-awaited, but out-of-the-ordinary, season gets ready to tip off.
The boys are 1-1. They lost to Hilton Head Prep on Monday 49-48 in overtime. They defeated The Habersham School yesterday 64-43. Both of these games were also in the Calvary Day Classic.
The 2019-2020 squad was littered with senior talent, including big man Trajan Weatherspoon who won Region 2-AAA Co-Player of the Year last season and three-year starting guard Donovan Sykes. The team will look to replace six seniors, but head coach Reggie Wilkes, who enters his fourth season as coach, is confident that his team will be just fine.
Junior forward Cameryn Johnson averaged 10.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 2 assists per game while the lone returning senior starter, guard Tostadas Pouncey, went for 13.2 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game. Wilkes said he expects “several players to move up from last year’s JV and take major roles on the varsity.”
Wilkes highlighted senior Arkavian Clark, juniors Jacob Cooper, Brandon Baird and Davion Henderson and sophomore Jamel Brimlet as key players to watch for this year’s squad. Wilkes is also excited about two transfers the team has added since the summer.
Joshua Valembrum is a 6’3” senior combo guard who transferred in from Vilseck, Germany and Trinity Gray, a 6’4” junior forward, is familiar with Long County as he transferred from Bradwell Institute in Hinesville.
With the team having advanced to the Elite Eight last season and falling just one point short of advancing to the semifinals for the first time in Long County High School history, Wilkes knows the team is going to have some work to do.
“We expect a few growing pains early, but as always we expect to compete for a Region title and have a strong showing in the state tournament,” Wilkes said.
“Growing pains” are certainly likely to happen for the Tide in the early stages of the season, especially with how little preparation the team had during the summer because of the changes the GHSA made due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Wilkes said that the changes “had a tremendous impact on our team” as it eliminated “30-35 varsity games and around 20 JV games” from their summer schedule.
“This is where we gain a lot of experience and familiarity with our offense and defense,” Wilkes said. “This year that was not possible so we are having to teach a lot of stuff players would normally already know.”
Because of this, players like Johnson, Henderson, and junior Dwayne Rowe have not been available to be on the court with the basketball team. With “8-10 players” joining the team when the football season ends, Wilkes said that they have been put in a “time crunch.”
Regardless of the challenges, the team has committed itself to rising above all challenges. In their scrimmage game against Bryan County on November 10, the team cruised to an 87-60 victory. In the game, Valembrun and Pouncey both finished with 17 points, while Gray scored 10 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter and Baird added 15.