Pinecrest Boys Start New Era
The Pinecrest boys kick off a new basketball season Monday night at James Moore Gym with a new head coach and new cast of starting players.
Jack Britt of the Big South Conference provides the opposition for the coaching debut of Andrew Lacey, with the tip-off scheduled for 7:30 p.m. The Patriots are coming off consecutive 24-win seasons and back-to-back conference titles under Mike Apple, who left after eight seasons to become the coach at Sandhills Community College.
There will be much less margin for error than that enjoyed by the veteran squads of the last two seasons that won 23 of 24 games in the Southeastern Conference. Among last year’s seven seniors were conference player of the year Faronte Drakeford and all-league guard Phillip Wallace, arguably two of the program’s top players of the last decade.
“It’s not going to be easy, it’s going to be a dog fight every night,” the 29-year-old Lacey, a varsity girls’ basketball coach at two schools in Virginia over the past four years says. “I don’t think by any stretch of the imagination we’re going to be one of the better teams athletically. We’re going to have to do the little things like boxing out, maximizing our possessions offensively and really being aggressive to compete night in and night out.”
Traivon Williams, a 6-foot-3 senior, was the second leading rebounder a year ago and the leading scorer among returnees at 5.5 points per game. Adam Cummings, a 6-2 junior, was second on the team in three-point baskets with 22. Others that were a part of Apple’s 10- or 11-man rotation are Greg Barnes, a 6-2 senior, and 6-2 junior Frankie Painter. Senior guards Bryan Scales and Josyia Smith also saw action.
Williams, Painter and Smith, as well as junior newcomers Justin Ray and Sam Brower, were all starters on the Patriot football team and got late starts on basketball practice.
“Traivon has that scary, scary athletic talent,” Lacey says. “He’s got that ability to do so many things and can guard anybody on the floor. Adam is probably our top shooter. He shots all the time and it shows. When he shoots, he feels it’s going in every time and so does his coach. Greg plays with the confidence you expect of a senior. He has had a great off-season.
“Last year Traivon, Adam, Greg and Frankie were role players. Now they’re going to be the guys everybody else is going to look upon.”
Ray is expected to get the start at point guard against Jack Britt. Senior Daquan McCrimmon, juniors Brower and Jermaine Martin-Calhoun, and sophomores Kardashian Ragin and Brendan Ortiz are the other guards.
“We don’t have a true point guard,” Lacey says, “but Justin can handle it. He has the ability to create his own shot and based on his athletic ability can do a lot of things.”
Up front, 6-5 sophomore Chyshad McGriff is the team’s tallest player. Seniors Jerryl Liles, 6-1, and Jordan Fields, 6-4, are a pair of hard-working forwards.
Lacey, who will be assisted by Larry Shields and Josh Newton, hopes to see his team evolve into one that can go 11 or 12 deep. From what he has learned, he expects Hoke County, the only team to beat the Patriots in conference play the last two years, to be the SEC favorite.
Nov. 21 – Jack Britt; 22 – at Seventy-First; 29 – Red Springs; 30 – at Western Harnett; Dec. 2 – Southern Durham; 6 – at Jack Britt; 8 – at Lee County; 10 -Southern Lee; 13 – at Hillside; 19 – at Southern Lee; Holiday tournament 27-29; Jan. 3 – at Red Springs; 6 – at Lumberton; 10 – at Scotland; 13 – Purnell Swett; 20 – Richmond; 24 – at Hoke; 27 – Lumberton; 31 – Scotland; Feb. 3 – at Purnell Swett; 7 – at Richmond; 10 – Hoke; 13-17 – SEC tournament
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