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Holly Hill Academy High School

 

Holly Hill Academy hoops begin November 19

By David Shelton

Senior Writer

Holly Hill – If anyone around Holly Hill Academy is looking for the school’s athletic director, Michael Nelson, during the winter sports season, start at the gym.

Nelson will be quite a busy man this basketball season as he takes on head coaching responsibilities for the varsity boys and varsity girls teams this season. He was hired to coach girls basketball back in the summer but added the boys team when former coach Aaron Johnson left coaching.

Fortunately, it is something that Nelson can juggle effectively, having coached several sports before.

“We’ll make it work, somehow,” said Nelson, who also coached volleyball and will coach baseball in the spring.

Nelson says both of the varsity programs will be quite young and inexperienced this season. The coach does not have a lot of numbers to work with and did not have to make cuts to the roster.

The boys team has 11 players on the roster, including just two seniors – guard Grayson Hopkins and Ben Johnson. Hopkins is the lone returning starter from last season and will be counted on for his leadership with a roster that includes three sophomores, four freshman and an eighth-grader.

Freshman Jabari Sumpter, a 6-3 wing, and sophomores Crawford Thomas and Zach Pelloni will be key contributors, according to Nelson. Freshman guards Marion and Perrin Breland also should see significant playing time.

“We’re pretty young for a varsity team but they have some potential,” Nelson said. “We have a ways to go in terms of learning the system and learning to play together but I think we can be competitive.

“The key will be how hard they are willing to work on the defensive end. If all 11 put in the effort, they all will play. We have to be a team that brings defensive intensity every day. That’s our mantra with this group.”

The girls roster has only eight players, including three seniors, four sophomores and an eighth-grader. The most experienced players are senior Anna Swank and sophomore Brooks Fennessy. Sophomore Madison Steele also returns with solid playing time as a freshman.

“Little longer ways to go with the girls right now,” Nelson said. “We’re still figuring out who can do what and what we can do as a team to be competitive. It’s going to take some time but we’ll figure it all out.

“At this level, in this SCISA level, it’s all about who can pressure the ball and who can handle the pressure. That will be our concern. We have to be able to protect the ball and find ways to pressure defensively without getting into foul trouble.”

Nelson says the junior varsity teams have bigger rosters but are much younger.

“We have a lot of the young ones on the varsity teams so that really makes the jayvee teams a lot younger,” he said. “But at least they are getting time and learning to play. Hopefully that helps us build a program down the road.”

Both varsity teams open the 2018-19 season on November 19 at Calhoun Academy.

 

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