Chambless came to JHS after being the head boys’ coach at Ohatchee for four years and then St. Clair County for one year. He had never coached the girls until coming to JHS.
“I have the same philosophy with the girls as I do with the boys,” says Chambless. When Chambless found out he would be coaching girls at JHS, he said the first thing he did was go to JHS volleyball coach David Clark and ask him how to coach girls. “He told me to coach them like I do the boys,” said Chambless. The advice paid off as in his second year as head basketball coach for the Lady Eagles his team won the state championship.
Chambless says the biggest difference in coaching both teams is in dealing with the players individually. “If you challenge a guy in front of the group, he steps up; with girls they shut down. You have to understand that they are different.”
So far this year, the JHS boy’s team has played three games, losing to Etowah but beating Pleasant Valley and White Plains. With the football team going to the playoffs, the Eagles had only two full practices with the entire team before the Etowah game.
Standing out for the Eagles in the early season is sophomore Cam Horton, who scored 19 points the first two games and put up 19 shots against White Plains to lead the team with 24 points.
“Cam Horton has something that you can’t coach and that’s a good trait,” said Chambless. “He’s a basketball player. He handles the ball really well. He is a young guy and will make young guy mistakes but he has got the ability and makes plays and works hard. He shows up early and is here when he doesn’t have to be.”
Also starting for the Eagles is junior Sid Thurmond who Chambless will look to for his experience. “Sid has been playing and he knows the level of competition and the competitive nature of 4A basketball,” said Chambless.
Chambless has the luxury of having three players that handle the ball really well and all could play point guard. In addition to Horton and Thurmond is junior Elijah Cunningham. “Elijah didn’t play a whole lot last year,” said Chambless. “He’s very competitive and can be the guy that can take the other teams best guard and give them a fit. He hustles, works, he’s tough and gets after it.”
At post Chambless has senior Lavontae LaCount, who plays a small forward. Chambless feels that LaCount poses a good matchup problem with any team he faces.
Another starter is junior Savon Parker. “I told him to play like he did as a linebacker, to get in there and get physical,” said Chambless, who hasn’t been disappointed with the way Parker is playing.
Chambless will also be relying on the bench strength of seniors Jackson Bell, Miles Clark, Payton Sims and Dakota Doss, all who can come in and contribute.
The Eagles are in a tough area. Hokes Bluff will be hard to beat this year with 7-footer Isaac Haas who has singed to play with Purdue. “Alexandria will play about 10 players,” said Chambless. “They don’t miss a beat when anyone comes in. There is no great player but they have a bunch of real good ones.”
The other team in the area, Centre, should also be very competitive.
Jacksonville will play against Oneonta on Tuesday night and then will play Etowah at home on Friday.