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Carolina Academy High School
Lake City

Stack pleased with progress of Carolina Academy girls


By David Shelton

Senior Writer

Lake City – T.J. Stack has been a high school basketball coach for more than 20 years but nearly all of that time has been coaching boys teams.

Stack had one season of coaching a girls team many years ago but finds himself back on the bench with a girls team as the first-year coach at Carolina Academy. He has made the transition well.

“It has been fun, maybe better than I expected,” said Stack, who came to Carolina Academy from Robert E. Lee Academy. “I guess the players make it enjoyable because we have some great girls here. They have done everything asked of them. They are good girls, very coachable, and they work hard. We haven’t had one issue in terms of attitude or effort.

“It’s all basketball when you get down to it. They want to learn and they love to compete. To be honest, it has been kind of refreshing. They have energized me.”

The girls program at Carolina Academy has struggled to find much success in recent years. Stack came into this season with measured expectations but the team has performed better than expected. Carolina Academy has won five games this season, including one region game, and has a chance to post a winning record during the regular season with six games remaining.

“We’ve actually been pretty competitive in most every game,” Stack says. “I guess the biggest issue has been free throw shooting. We do not shoot very well from the line. We definitely could have a few more wins if we shot better free throws. It’s something we work on. They just don’t fall for us.

“But I like the way we play defense. We play hard and we have girls who will dive on the floor for loose balls. They try hard to rebound and they have improved a lot. I think we have more wins in us. We’ll see what happens.”

The team’s best offensive player is eighth-grader Ruby Kate Amos, who has hit double figures in several games this season. Though she struggles as a ball-handler, Stack says Amos has a shooter’s mentality.

“She’s not afraid to put it up and she has a good shot,” the coach said. “Some people wondered why I would put her on the varsity team so young. She’s good enough to be here and she’s earning it.”

Stack says junior point guard Harley Welch is the “glue of the team.” Junior Vandi Timmons has been a productive player in the post and sophomore Grace Weaver has become a defensive stopper.

“Grace will get after it and she’s always working hard to get better,” Stack said.

The team has only one senior, Haley Sims, so the future appears to be solid as these underclassmen continue to work and improve their game.

Other juniors include Jaimee Epps and Lara Abuaita. Rachel Yarborough, Anna Grace Bradley and Lake Killman are sophomores, and Mary Catherine Cameron is a freshman.

Meanwhile, the boys team at Carolina Academy is 7-4 overall and competing well in region play under coach Robert Phillips.

Phillips has six seniors on this year’s roster but the starting five unit is comprised of five juniors. The two returning starters from a year ago are point guard Matthew Joye and wing Matt Gaskins. Joye has been the team’s most consistent scoring threat early, averaging about 12 points per game.

Cade Castles, the team’s sixth man a year ago, is now part of the starting lineup. Two newcomers to the team, George Wilder and Austin Brown, have earned early starts as well.

Senior Caleb Matthews has been first off the bench, along with junior Brennan Smith. Other seniors include Mac Timmons, Cody Sauls, Tyler Galloway, Preston Privette and Wheeler Floyd.



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