By Mike Brown
For Bryan County Now
No one is happier about the success of the Richmond Hill football team than Bill Henderson, but it does put a crimp in his basketball plans.
The sixth-year Wildcat basketball coach saw his team open the season Tuesday night against New Hampstead, and the roster was still somewhat unsettled as five football players were getting acclimated to changing sports.
Footballers Sam James, Sheldon Lewis, Kasey Green, D.J. Lewis and Justin Jeffery all showed up for tryouts on Monday, Henderson said, and hopefully he can get his varsity roster finalized this week.
Following the opener with New Hampstead, the Wildcats will be in action on Friday and Saturday in the South Side Classic at Windsor Forest High School before playing at Tattnall County next Tuesday.
“We’ve got the team set, and now the work begins,” Henderson said. “We’ll play four games in seven days with only three or four days of practice.
“But, we’re rocking and rolling,” Henderson said. “We should be ready for the most part.
“We’ve got a lot of guys coming back. We’ve got a group together that understands the expectations, and have been a part of success, although the season last year didn’t end the way we wanted.”
Last year the Wildcats posted 20 wins, won the regular season Region 2AAAAAA championship, but faltered in the region tournament. Richmond Hill had to go on the road as a No. 3 seed and lost at state to Jones County.
The Wildcats played a scrimmage game last week against Statesboro and Henderson liked what he saw.
“We got an idea of where we were without the football players,” Henderson said. “We saw some things we need to work on.”
Richmond Hill’s starters have limited varsity experience, but Henderson has built the program to the point that the Wildcats are not rebuilding so much as reloading. The junior varsity and middle school program are solid and producing players who eventually fill in the varsity vacancies.
In the early going, senior Jeremy Foster gets the call as point guard and he will be joined in the backcourt by senior Brandon Beckwith. Junior Brett Fisher and senior Eric Jones will man the wings with 6-10 senior Thomas O’Neil in the post.
Fisher was limited to junior varsity play last year, and O’Neil saw action in two varsity games while honing his skills with the jayvees. Kevin McLeod and Seun Oguntunmibi will be the first players off the bench.
“The kids coming up from the jayvees plugged right in,” Henderson said.
A lot of this is, of course, subject to change depending on how the football players-turned-basketball player progress. Some of them, Henderson noted, are in the process of making decisions regarding their commitment to basketball.
“We’re fortunate at Richmond Hill regarding the type of kid we have,” Henderson said. “Last year we had guys who pushed one another, and this group is a lot like that.
“They push each other hard in practice, and hold one another accountable. They want the very best for their teammates. They have an incredible work ethic in practice.”
Nov. 14: New Hampstead; 17-18: South Side Classic at Windsor Forest; 21: at Tattnall County.
Dec. 1: at South Effingham; 5: at Liberty County; 9: Windsor Forest; 12: Tattnall County; 21-22-23 TBA; 28-29: Richmond Hill Holiday Classic.
Jan 2: at Glynn Academy*; 5: at Effingham County*; 6: Islands; 9: Brunswick*; 12: Bradwell Institute*; 16: South Effingham; 20: Liberty County; 23: Glynn Academy*; 26: Effingham County*; 30: at Brunswick*.
Feb. 2: at Bradwell Institute*.
*— Region game.