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Carolina Academy High School
Lake City

Phillips sees potential in young Carolina Academy squad

 

By David Shelton

Senior Writer

Lake City – One might look at an 0-7 record and think maybe the coach of said team is disappointed. That is not the case for Carolina Academy boys basketball coach Robert Phillips.

While Phillips admits that he thought his team would have tasted success a time or two at this point of the 2017-18 season, he also feels wins will come.

“I’m not discouraged at all,” said the seventh-year head coach. “I knew with the youth of our team, along with the tough early schedule, that we might struggle some. I thought we would have a win or two by now but that’s okay. We have been a lot more competitive as we play more and maybe lost one or two that we should have won. Those wins will come as we gain experience. I love the potential of this group. They get after it. They work hard and they want to win.”

As Phillips says, the early schedule was not exactly conducive to success, especially considering his team has one starting senior and three freshmen are playing considerable minutes.

The early schedule included the likes of Dillon Christian, Palmetto Christian, Laurence Manning, Orangeburg Prep and Wilson Hall.

“Several of our guys played football so really we had very little practice time before we started playing games,” Phillips said. “We’re just now starting to put things together but what we really need is practice time. We have the holidays coming up and that will allow us to get a lot of practice time in. We have nine new varsity players, of the 12, and we just need to practice together. I really believe we can make a big jump over the holidays.”

The team’s top player is junior guard Will Epps, who is the only player averaging in double figures at 17 points per game. Epps has had several games over 20 points this season.

“Right now, he’s really the only true offensive threat that we have but that will change as the other guys gain some confidence,” Phillips said.

The lone starting senior this season is 6-3 post man Will Matthews, a solid rebounder who contributes about six points per game.

Junior guard Matthew Lamb is a returning player from last year and averages about seven points per game.

“He’s a really smart kid, knows all of the plays and really can direct things on the floor,” Phillips said. “A lot of what he does for us doesn’t show up in the box score.”

Phillips has handed the point guard duties to freshman Matthew Joye.

“He’s a really good ball-handler and he’s adjusting to the pace of the varsity game,” the coach said. “He’s going to be a really solid player. He’s learning every day and you can see he’s gaining some confidence.”

Another freshman starter is 6-3 forward Jeremiah Brunson, who has played just three games but shows signs of being a real force at the power forward position.

“He hasn’t played a lot of basketball but he’s very athletic and really strong, physically,” Phillips said. “He’s learning the ins and outs of the position but sometimes what he does athletically is really amazing to see.”

A third freshman, Matt Gaskins, is first off the bench as a post/forward. Gaskins contributes as a solid rebounder and defender in the paint and is showing increased offensive potential.

 Junior Tyson Brand, one of the top SCISA running backs in football, is coming off the bench to provide depth inside.

Phillips has been impressed with his team’s continued effort while not yet experiencing success on the scoreboard. If that positive attitude continues, the wins will come.

“Our losses so far have not been due to a lack of effort or attitude,” Phillips said. “This team is very positive. We know our issues. We need to shoot better and need to get all of our offense in, and we need to improve defensively. Again, without much practice time, we’re trying to learn on the run and that’s not good against the teams that we have played.”

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