Kim Chambers knew what he was getting into when he signed on last season to coach both the girls and boys varsity basketball teams at Harlem High School.
Harlem High School basketball coach Kim Chambers has his hands full leading both the Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs teams this year. Chambers callsthisyear a stepping stone for the girls team and says the boys "are a contender" this season.
Photo by Mike Howell
The former Augusta Preparatory Day School coach knew the Bulldogs were coming off a winless season, and he knew the Lady Dogs had been decimated by graduation.
But Chambers wasn't worried - he was too busy juggling two jobs and trying to rebuild a program.
During his initial campaign, which featured an 0-22 record with the Harlem girls and a 4-20 mark with the boys, Chambers emphasized discipline and defense.
Those concepts would eventually lead to success, Chambers insisted.
Harlem hasn't had to wait long to experience a reversal of fortune.
The girls posted three victories through their first eight games this season, while the boys surged to a 4-2 record with a 55-47 win in the Region 3-AAA opener Tuesday night at Westside High School.
Now Chambers is worried, but for all the right reasons.
"I think winning makes it fun, but I enjoy coaching, period, whether we're winning or losing," Chambers said Tuesday at Westside. "When you're losing, you're working hard; when you're winning you worry about making a mistake or calling the wrong play."
Those problems seem minor, considering Chambers was still seeking his first win with Harlem at this time last year.
While Chambers has engineered a turnaround with both teams, the Lady Dogs still are a work in progress. Westside whipped Harlem 51-31 Tuesday, and the Lady Dogs contributed to their own demise by hitting only 9 of 24 free throws.
"We've come a long way from last year. You can't all of the sudden jump from one place to another. The girls are hustling and that's all I can ask of them," Chambers said. "This season is a stepping stone, we're competitive and the girls have won. I think throughout the season we'll get better."
Harlem senior David Green drives past Westside High School's Brandon Satcher at Tuesday's game. Harlem went on to win 55-47.
Photo by Mike Howell
Laura Tam is Harlem's leading scorer, and LaToya Johnson is providing strong defensive play. Transfer student Shannon Camp gives the Lady Dogs some extra strength under the boards.
Nila James, Sharday Taylor, Sara Wacker and Clare Hatcher are contributing, too. Hatcher hit the game-winning shot to push Harlem past Aquinas in overtime earlier this month.
The Lady Dogs are focused on improving fundamental skills with an eye toward the future; as for the Bulldogs, Chambers says the future is now.
"We know that we're a contender. We talked about the Westside game being the wake-up call. We were going to send a message that we're for real."
The Dogs delivered the message in the fourth period with a 24-point explosion against the Patriots.
The region foes were locked in a close battle when Travis Jackson converted a 3-point play to give Harlem a 34-33 lead. Chris Williams connected from the wing to put the Dogs up 41-39, and Harlem senior Domonique Brown followed with the key play of the night.
Brown faked to the outside, then drove directly at Westside big-man James Beasley. Brown drew the foul, drained the bucket and completed a 3-point play; meanwhile, Beasley had committed his fifth and was out of the game.
From there, Harlem pulled away, as Tim Camp and David Green sealed the victory with stellar free throw shooting. For the game, Camp was eight for eight from the line, and Green was eight for 10.
Williams has been leading Harlem in scoring, but every Dog has had his day - Green poured in 27 against Lakeside, and Brown tallied 20 against Aquinas; Camp and Jackson also are aggressive offensive players.
"We're underrated. We've been making a lot of improvements and we've been working harder at practice," Jackson said after scoring eight against Westside. "This game gives us a lot of confidence. We plan on having a winning season this year."
Harlem's senior guard isn't the only one with big plans.
"Everyone out there is ready to play - they're applying pressure," Chambers said. "We're not overconfident; we're confident we can play with anybody, and given the opportunity we can win."
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.