The Briarwood Academy Buccaneers are readying for basketball season. And it promises to be a bright one.
Even before the first game is played, the Bucs are seen as being one of the leading contenders for the GISA Region 1-A championship this season. Such would be most pleasing to third- year head coach Bo Fleming.
"It would be great to win the region championship and even greater to win a state championship," coach Fleming said in an interview last Wednesday. The first and only basketball state title ever won by the Briarwood Academy Buccaneers came in 1999 when Fleming was a junior. He's hoping that a little more than 10 years later his team can attain that same recognition. Ironically, coach Clayton Parrish, coach Fleming's assistant, was head coach of that state championship team.
The team is preparing for the regular season, which began Monday with Briarwood taking on West School of Augusta. A story about that game will appear in next week's newspaper.
This year's varsity team consists of five seniors, five juniors, five sophomores and four freshmen. The five seniors include: Trey Stadler, Matthew McElveen, Carson Wiley, Thomas Lynam and Andrew Coxwell.
Stadler, the team's leading scorer and rebounder from last season, will be back for his last season. The power forward averaged 15 points and 12 rebounds per game last season.
"He's definitely our go-to guy," coach Fleming said. "He gives it everything he's got when he's on the court. He's valuable to this team in so many ways."
Stadler, who has had an exceptional year in football and helped the Bucs into the playoffs, is hopeful of receiving a scholarship from Georgia Southern University in Statesboro to play football there next year.
Speaking of football, the basketball is made up of 14 of them.
Three other starting players expected to bring much to the table for the team this season are: Wiley, a guard; Ryan Nelson, a forward and Dalton Reese, a sophomore guard.
"All three of them can score and played pretty good defense," coach Fleming said. "We're going to be counting on them to come through a lot of times this season."
Two other players also are expected to see many minutes of playing on the court this season. They are Steven Gunn and Blake Sowell, both junior guards.
Other players on the varsity team this season include: Ryan Pritchett, Matt McHatton, Fifth Newton, Taylor Smith, Spencer Hadden, Tyler Daniels, Tyler Edwards, Jesse Prescott and Colt Phelps.
Coach Fleming said the Bucs are going to do some things differently this season than they did a year ago.
"We're going to pressure opponents more with either a full court press or traps," coach Fleming stressed. "
The Buccaneers finished third in region play last season behind John Hancock Academy and Thomas Jefferson Academy. Coach Fleming has all the reason in the world to believe that his team stands a good chance of winning the region crown this season, based on the fact that the team has much of the same team returning from a year ago.
"If we play to our potential, we have an excellent chance, I believe, of winning the region championship and advancing deep into the state tournament," coach Fleming said.
The Bucs were bumped off by Covenant Academy in the first round of the state playoffs last season.