Billy Jackson needed a coach for his 14-under team heading into the 2010 Amateur Athletic Union summer season. So the director of the Columbia County-based Georgia Sting AAU organization called someone he knew had loads of experience, both as a player and a coach for recreation teams.
"He contacted me and asked me to come back to coaching," Marcella Glover said. "I'm a pastor now, and I told him that my son is the real coach now. I wanted to bring my son in with me."
Jackson said at the time that if 26-year-old Antwann Glover was anything like his mother, he wouldn't mind him coming on board.
As it turns out, Antwann has helped turn the team into a more cohesive, winning squad after taking over on-court duties. The team has come together so much that it qualified for the AAU Girls Basketball National Championships, which will take place Monday through July 10 in Orlando, Fla., at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex.
Melissa Wheat said her daughter, Kara Thompson, learned right away that things would be different with Antwann Glover in charge.
"After seeing them warm up, he told the players to separate into post players and guards," Wheat said. "She started walking toward the post players, but he stopped her and said, 'You're a guard.' "
Because of her height, Thompson, a 15-year-old rising sophomore at Greenbrier High, had played post for as long as she could remember. But the new coach saw something else. After working with her on ball-handling and defense, Thompson blossomed into the team's starting point guard.
"He's using her abilities better," Wheat said.
Glover told -- and showed -- the team right away exactly what he expects. He said the team's practices are short, about an hour, but intense.
"We get a lot out of it because they know what I demand," he said. "We get a lot done, but we have fun with it."
The team started out losing by double digits. After learning to play together and feed off of one another, Glover said, the team started to win games by big margins.
Trez Holloway serves as the on-court assistant coach, while Marcella Glover is the coach on the administrative side. Randy Harrison keeps statistics, and Wanda Robinson assists with anything else the team needs.
The upcoming trip to Orlando came about after the team finished first in an AAU tournament in North Augusta. They also finished runner-up in another tournament in North Augusta and in a tournament at Patriots Park, helping them to qualify for the Nationals.
It will be the first trip to Nationals for all 16 of the 14-under team members. Some of the team members have already turned 15, but still qualify because their birthday falls after a certain date.
"I'm beyond excited that we actually made it," said Bria Baker, a 15-year old rising sophomore at Lakeside High.
Josalyn Leverett-Scott, a 14-year-old rising sophomore at Grovetown High, echoed several of her teammates in pointing out the great chemistry the team has discovered.
"The best part is the relationship with the team. It's a family, and they support you," Leverett-Scott said.
The 14-under squad will open play against a team from New Hampshire. In addition to teams from different regions of the United States, several teams come from other countries.
In addition to the 14-under squad, the Georgia Sting also had one of its two 12-under squads and a 15-under team qualify to compete in Orlando. The 15-under team will not be able to make the trip.
Stefanie Basinger, coach of the Riverside Middle School basketball team, also coaches the 12-under Sting team headed for Orlando. She said the team has come together after struggling early on, and qualified with tournaments victories in North Augusta and Atlanta.
"They're pretty excited," Basinger said. "It's definitely going to be an experience, something new for them."
Basinger said she expects a top-four finish for her team after the improvement her players have shown.
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