Lewis said Tuesday morning he expected to play Darnell Jackson, Exavyer Jackson, Ty Sparks, Denard Spears and Dreek Thompson as one unit of five for the first game. Caleb Adams, Neonta Alexander, Bayley Blanchard, Taylor Hayes and Tyler Lusk will compose a second group of five. Lewis said Austin Brazier, Easton Kirk and Jamaal Young “will work within those groups for this first game.” Wil Mitchell spend time playing with both the varsity and the ‘B’ team.
“Really, that is just a starting point,” Lewis said. “I am very open to someone stepping forward and changing things but, as usual, we hope to get everyone in this first game because we know that we are not in top playing condition playing against an opponent who has five games under their belt already.”
With 13 of his 14 players playing football there wasn’t a lot of basketball practice time in November but that’s nothing unusual at Piedmont in recent years. Lewis had some time with the group as basketball players in June and liked what he saw.
“We had a very good summer, played very well sometimes, but they always played hard so I hope we bring that with us,” he said. “We usually keep things simple in the summer, so we often begin these new seasons with very little in way of offense and sets. We just ask them to play loose and hard until we as coaches can bring our end up to speed. We were able to see that we are small and rebounding could be a problem but we have a lot of interchangeable parts so we could be versatile, hopefully.”
One thing that summer work confirmed for Lewis and his assistants is the chemistry this group possesses, a chemistry that extends beyond the basketball court.
“That always makes coaching an easier task when the young men have bonds beyond bouncing a ball,” Lewis noted.
Lewis said he felt Piedmont “could be a very deep team by February,” every Piedmont fan’s favorite time of the basketball season. While depth will take some time to develop, Lewis predicts effort will be a hallmark for this Bulldogs team from start to finish.
“One thing I was able to see about many of these guys is their heart during football,” Lewis noted. “Watching how a young man competes for another coach and team always tells me a lot about his overall character and this group proved that they have a competitive heart during football.”
Piedmont continues on the road the remainder of this week and into next week. The Bulldogs play at Wellborn Thursday and at Woodland on Monday of next week. Piedmont opens area play at Weaver next Tuesday, December 10.