Head coach Kent Howard hopes that is the case for his Adairsville squad in the 2013-14 season, which begins Saturday against Cass High.
Senior point guard Tyler Washington and senior center Sammie Frazier headline the returners for the Tigers.
“I’m excited about this year and getting started because I really liked how our guys finished last year and how they played on into the summer,” Howard said. “So if that is any indication, I hope to get off to a quick start this year.”
Adairsville finished 10-16 last season and 4-11 in region play.
Last season, Washington led the team in assists with 4.5 per game and steals with 1.5 per game. He added 8 points per game. According to Howard, Washington is on pace to break the school’s career assist record.
“Tyler is going to be a third-year starter. He’s a straight-A student, he’s a high character kid, one of the hardest working kids I’ve probably ever coached,” Howard said. “He’s very well thought of, he’s a leader and we go where he goes as a team.”
In the frontcourt, Frazier is a 6-foot-5 post player.
“Sammie’s a left-handed kid who has been in our program four years and is probably one of the most improved players I’ve ever been around,” Howard said. “His footwork has gotten better and he finishes well around the basket. He’s definitely one to note. He is a good kid and has a great attitude.”
Junior Marcus Childers is another returning starter and will play on the wing for the Tigers.
“Marcus is a really talented basketball player,” Howard said. “He had a great summer for us this year. He’s real athletic, he’s a really good kid, and he’s fun to coach.”
Washington, Frazier and Childers will likely start, but the rest of the lineup could change as the year progresses.
“That’s the beauty of this team, I think I could start a different five every night,” Howard said. “It’s the first year I think I can say that. Based off who we have coming back, I don’t know that we’ll have a set starting five to start the year. There’s going to be some competitive spots and it always makes you better when you have that internal competition.”
The Tigers did lose some talented seniors from a year ago, including Kyle Adams and Austin Greenfield.
Greenfield was the team’s leading scorer at 12 points per game. He was also second on the team in assists and steals.
“[Adams] was a three-sport standout and just a tough competitor,” Howard said. “He could shoot it pretty well and losing him hurts us.”
Last year’s senior class helped lead Adairsville to a first-round victory in the region tournament. The Tigers then lost in the next round to North Murray, who was the runner-up in the region.
“We felt like we ended the year real strong and that was one of the positives coming into the year, how we finished last year,” Howard said. “North Murray eliminated us but they were loaded with seniors and they were well-coached, so we played real well at the end and I like where we finished.”
With Frazier down low and talented guards on the perimeter, the Tigers have plenty going for them.
“Our guard play is what carries us and kind of who we are, but I think we’re going to have a good balance,” Howard said. “I think we’ll be able to play in the halfcourt and in the fullcourt. I like that about this group.”
Adairsville has seven seniors this year and Howard hopes his team can use the momentum built up last season and carry it over to this one.
“In terms of wins and losses, I feel like we have a chance this year, night in and night out, to win,” Howard said. “I feel good about it.”