Senior-laden Piedmont spent years buying into Deerman’s defensive ways
by Joe Medley
Apr 16, 2013 | 3264 views |  0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Matt Deerman acknowledges that he sells his Piedmont girls basketball teams a tough buy-in.

“I’m a defensive guy, and a lot of kids want to get their name in the paper for scoring a bunch of points,” he said.

Piedmont gave up 50 or more points just twice en route to a 26-7 season and run to the Northeast Regional semifinals, and that buy-in won Deerman recognition as The Star’s Calhoun County Class 3A girls’ coach of the year.

Piedmont gave up just 31.6 points a game. Both teams that broke 50 points against Piedmont were 6A teams, Oxford and Gadsden City. No Piedmont opponent scored more than 54 points.

That’s buy-in from a team that had offense firepower from players such as Sarah Garner and BreAnna Thompson.

“One of the things that was always stressed to me is, everybody’s got a role,” Deerman said. “We’re going to have certain people score, and we’re going to have other people that are just as important, but I make a rule or things like rebounding playing defense.

“I like defense a lot better than I do offense.”

Deerman points to buy-in from players like senior guard and first-year starter Catlyn Coogler.

“You might have seen her in the paper maybe two or three times, but she really, really battled at what we wanted her to do,” he said. “That was to shut the other team’s point guard down and not let them get the offense going.

“She was a huge part of our success just because of what she did. It was a whole-team effort.”

This season’s Piedmont team actually spent a few years buying into Deerman’s philosophy. Four of five starters — Garner, Thompson, Coogler and Brittnay Holloway — were seniors.

They took their lumps on the way to strong junior and senior seasons.

“A couple of them started as ninth-graders, so you could see the future going on,” Deerman said. “As freshmen, I think they won 19 games, and then a few graduated.

“The next year was kind of rough. We only won 11 games and didn’t make the playoffs (sub-regional). It was the first time I didn’t make the playoffs in five years, and I think they kind of took that to heart.”

Piedmont reached the sub-regional round in 2012 and came into this season with expectations of reaching the state semifinals in Birmingham. The Bulldogs lost 41-34 to eventual state runner-up Holly Pond in the regional.

“It was kind of tough to end the season the way we did,” Deerman said. “But now that we’ve had time to sit back and look at it, we had a really good year.

“It’s a credit to them (the players) for working so far and continuing to get better and not just staying satisfied with where they were at.”

Stats show that Piedmont did it the Deerman way — through defense.

Sports Columnist Joe Medley: 256-235-3576. On Twitter @jmedley_star.
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