It’s a new year, but the goals remain the same for Gadsden City boys basketball.
Those goals include a Class 7A, Area 7 title, a trip to Jacksonville for the Northeast Regional and competing for a state championship.
“There’s not one year we don’t think we had an opportunity to compete for a state championship,” Gadsden City coach Reginald Huff said. “The state championship team (Mountain Brook) beat us by one last year. And we were the most competitive team they played in the playoffs.”
The Titans have made it to the Northeast Regionals seven out of 11 seasons. Gadsden City made it to the finals in Jacksonville six of those times, with the other being a 52-51 loss to Mountain Brook last season. All of the regional final losses have been by single digits outside of the Titans’ 16-point loss to Spain Park in their first season.
“We’ve been right there at it,” said Huff, who is four victories away from 500 career wins. “We’ve been able to compete for a state championship because we are playing against state championship-caliber teams. And we are one-, two-point victories away from being the one to go to Birmingham and hopefully hoist that blue map.”
The Titans graduated seven seniors including leading scorer guard Deonte Jones, who averaged 17.2 points a game, 7.8 rebounds and 5.2 assists.
But Huff has plenty of talent back from last year’s team, which finished the season 16-14.
Senior guard Jaylen Cole is back. He averaged 15.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.7 assists last season. He was named to the North South all-star game last year, the first Titan to do so since Jerrell Harris.
Senior guards Dee Pearson and Kameron Burnett will join Cole in the starting five when Huff runs his three-guard offense as he has done in the past.
“Having guards in high school basketball is huge,” Huff said. “If you have guards, you have a chance. If you don’t have guards, you do not not have a chance.”
Darien Hollis at 6-foot-5 will be the forward while 6-foot-7 center Mykel Woods rounds out the starting five.
With 6-foot-5 Gaston transfer J’Shon Chinn, 6-foot-5 D’Errick Curry and 6-foot-4 forward Mardayus Bothwell coming off the bench, Gadsden City has plenty depth inside the paint.
“We have good length and guys that rebound well,” Huff said. “We haven’t had size like this (in a while).”
The Titans open the season at the defending Class 6A state champions Paul Bryant on Tuesday, then head to Hoover later in the week.
Gadsden City’s non-region schedule also includes 6A state semifinalist Talladega, defending 3A state champions Midfield, Chelsea and Arab. And there will be some more with the Titans playing in a few tournaments throughout the regular season.
The Titans also added Southside to the schedule this year.
“I think it’s going to be a good game for our fans,” Huff said. “Also, maybe it’ll build a rivalry if we can keep it going.”
Huff likes the non-region slate, combined with Gadsden City’s 7A, Area 7 matchups with Grissom, Hewitt-Trussville and Huntsville, to get them ready for a possible postseason run.
“We have a very tough schedule,” Huff said. “We are going to be challenged early. … I feel like if this team comes into its own and we can develop the mental and physical toughness, it could possibly be the best team to come through here.”
Article courtesy of Teddy Couch of The Gadsden Times