The Evans High School boys' varsity basketball team had a banner season in 2000-01. The Knights won their first Columbia County Christmas Tournament title, and posted a school-record 19 wins.
Rather than resting on those laurels, Evans coach Kevin Kenny prefers to look ahead. "We had nine great seniors - they're gone now. We have to get ready for this year," Kenny said last week.
Evans coach Kevin Kenny gives some instruction to a player during a recent practice.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
But as Evans prepared for the upcoming court campaign, Kenny had to take one glance in the rear-view mirror.
"Our biggest goal - and we mentioned it just one time because we don't want to live in the past - is that last year's seniors set the bar, as far as victories and defensive reputation. We told the players they have to live up to that," he said.
"We want to do as well as we can, and we feel good about the kids we have this year. They're a little inexperienced, but I think they'll surprise a lot of people. Some of them were on the team last year, and they're in that defensive mind-set; with defensive pressure, wins are going to come. They saw what it takes and I feel good about that."
The Knights opened the 2001-02 season this week, and begin Region 4-AAAAA play with an 8:30 p.m. home game against Mount Zion-Jonesboro High School.
While Evans has lost its nucleus from last season, Kenny says the Knights are still in position to earn one of four state playoff berths at stake in Region 4-AAAAA.
"Everybody lost players. The region should be more balanced this year; last year, three or four teams stood out," Kenny said. "This season all 16 teams are pretty much equal. It's wide open for the playoff spots."
The Knights expect to get a lift from junior point guard John Harris, who transferred in from Augusta Christian Schools. Senior guard Teddy Ingram returns, and was a force off the bench last year. Patrick Harris and Eric Chester, both up from the junior varsity, also will see playing time this year.
Marcus Davis and Kendrick Davis both are strong inside players, and Kenny says he expects a "monster year" from Kendrick, as well as good outside shooting from Marcus.
Senior leadership will be provided by Ingram, Chris Jennell, Maddison Cook, Marcus Davis, James Warner, Clint Goccio and Ryan Renn.
While the 2000-01 squad was known primarily for its stifling defense, the Knights also battled under the boards, despite being smaller than their opponents.
Kenny says his team is bigger this year, but as the Knights' predecessors proved, intangibles are more important than size.
"Rebounding is 90 percent desire and fundamentals, doing a good job boxing out and getting in their minds that we can rebound with anybody," Kenny said. "I don't know that we can rebound as well as we did last year, but we can come close to it."
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