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Colleton Prep High School
Walterboro

Simmons brings positive attitude to Colleton Prep boys team

 

By David Shelton

Senior Writer

WalterboroMaurice Simmons could not have picked a more difficult situation for his first experience as a full-time varsity head basketball coach than the one he chose at Colleton Prep Academy.

Simmons served as an interim varsity coach a few years ago at Colleton County High School but the bulk of his coaching experience has come on the junior varsity level.

His first “real” full-time gig as a head coach is coming this season at the small private school in town, just a few miles from his former place of employment. The program he inherited at Colleton Prep may have been the most difficult in the state of South Carolina.

Entering this 2018-19 season, the boys program at Colleton Prep had not experienced a victory in two years. Numbers were down because none of the athletes wanted to be a part of a program that fellow students laughed at. However, slowly and surely, things are changing with Simmons at the helm.

“We started with eight guys and after a few days, those eight liked what I was saying and they went out and found six more players, so we’re at 14 now,” Simmons said. “When I got here I didn’t dwell on the past. I saw a group of that was eager to learn and get better. They were tired of losing. We just have to get them headed in the right direction. It’s a learning process for them and for me. I have had to learn to adjust as well but we’re all in this together. And we are improving.”

Improving enough to end the winless streak. The Warhawks have notched two wins as of January 14, beating Jefferson Davis Academy and Holly Hill Academy. They also have been competitive in several other games.

“Early on we didn’t shoot free throws very well and we lost a game or two we may have been able to win,” Simmons said. “We have improved some in that area. We’re improving at everything.”

The team’s best offensive player is senior guard Brandon Polk, who averages about 16 points per game. The team’s only other senior, post player Jason Dennis, adds about 10 points and nine rebounds per game.

Sophomore forward Kyle Coker, a top pitcher on the baseball team, is adding solid work on the boards and is the best athlete on the team. Juniors John Tomedolsky, David McMillan and Clay Griffith are the other two starting spots in a rotation.

 Coming off the bench are Jake Tyler, Riley Smoak and Gabe Barnes, who has just recently been cleared to play after recovering from a football injury.

“We are still learning the way I want to play,” Simmons said. “I want to play fast and up tempo and they aren’t used to that. But, I tell them if they trust the process and keep working, we will win games.”

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