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Marlboro County High School
Bennettsville

Marlboro County basketball teams under new leadership this season

 

By David Shelton

Senior Writer

Bennettsville – The boys and girls basketball programs at Marlboro County High are under new leadership in 2017-18 with both programs looking to build back to respectability.

Troy Brace is the new boys basketball coach and inherits a team that managed five wins last season. His team is young and inexperienced this season, resulting in an 0-5 start.

“I knew we might struggle some early on with me being a new coach and having a lot of young guys but honestly, 0-5 is below my expectations,” said Brace, who comes to Marlboro County after a few years as an assistant at Fort Mill. “We have a lot to learn. We have to learn how to win and how to trust in the process.

“But, it’s on me. It’s up to me to figure it out. It’s up to me to learn the players and to figure out the rotation and the combinations that work for us. We’ll get there. We have a lot of potential. A win would help tremendously in terms of confidence.”

Brace feels the future of the program looks solid with a strong sophomore class, and a freshman guard, Vontae Oliver, who has moved into the starting lineup.

The most productive senior is DayDay McCollough, who is the team’s best offensive threat and is averaging about 20 points per game early on. Senior Lance Monroe is working some in the post. The only other seniors this season are Tysheem McClain and Tray Miller.

Brace sees solid potential in sophomores Ryan Dupree, a post player, and 6-4 wing Wesley Brown. Other sophomores include Keshaad Hicks and Jamiek McCray.

Juniors on the squad include Damien Bruce, Tyrese Quick, Jett Herndon, Lorenza Bostic, Rictavius McInnis, Iyon Williams and Jalen McCloud.

“We are basically working with a freshman and two sophomores in the starting lineup right now,” Brace said. “But, we’ve also had probably five different starting combinations so far. We haven’t found the consistent group yet but we’re getting closer. The more we play, I learn more about each player and what kind of chemistry we have.

Despite the slow start, the coach is seeing effort from his team.

“Their attitude is great and their work ethic is good,” Brace said. “We will figure things out. I think our potential is good.”

The Bulldogs will play in two holiday tournaments, heading to Rock Hill for an event at Northwestern before Christmas, and to Andrew Jackson for a tournament after Christmas.

Meanwhile, the new girls coach is Leah Zimmerman, a 2000 graduate of the school and former athlete. Zimmerman coached the junior varsity girls five years ago but has spent the last few years as an assistant on the boys team.

Things are off to a better start with the girls team, posting an early 3-2 record with wins over Scotland County (NC), Cheraw and Central of Pageland.

“We’re progressing, getting a little better each day,” Zimmerman said. “The girls have responded well. I knew a few of the players before I took over so it was an easy transition. We have a lot of work to do but we have good potential. The thing I like most is they all get along, on and off the court. We have pretty good chemistry.”

Senior Brianna Bridges is one of the team leaders as the starting point guard. She is averaging about 11 points per game early on, which is a significant rise in offensive production.

“I am encouraging her to score more, to look for her shot more,” Zimmerman said. “She’s a great floor leader and defender and her basketball I.Q. is really high. She is capable of scoring for us so we want her to take on that role.”

Two sophomores producing at the two guard position are Kennedy Ashwood and Shania Oliver. Oliver is scoring 9.5 points while Ashwood averages 7.0 points per game. Freshman guard Ashley Bridges adds about 5.7 points per game.

 Working in the post are seniors Semajah Sweatman, Jala McCormick, and Inehjiah Brown. All three contribute about six points per game inside and are working the boards.

“We’d like to see more scoring in the post,” Zimmerman said. “We want everyone to score. We want them all to be threats and make people defend the entire floor. We want them to be confident and to take the good shot if they get it.”

 

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