Observations on three of the best teams in Class AAAA (two girls teams, one boys team):
Chantay Frost’s voice is a normal voice.
Which is odd, since she’s a basketball coach, and her team – the Colubmia girls – is well over halfway through its season.
By now, many coaches sound like Froggy from the Little Rascals, the price paid for trying to outyell gyms full of people and guide the actions of teen-agers.
Not Frost. Her team is 14-2, so calm would seem to be the normal state of affairs.
“You learn that over time, you put in the screaming and the effort and all that during practice,” Frost said. “Push comes to shove, we sub you and we talk with you about correcting what you did wrong, then we get you back in there.”
The Lady Eagles, gunning for their third state title in four years, seem to be learning without all the raised voices, and though they lost five seniors from last year’s team, they had Miah Spencer and Shaundricka Mann back, and a lot of players who saw a lot of playing time in a lot of blowouts last year.
“I’m excited about what I see in them. It’s about how fast they buy into the system,” Frost said.
Funny the things you notice when you’re experiencing new success. For South Effingham’s girls, the people in the stands look different.
They’re now wearing future opponents’ school colors and taking notes.
“One of our news reporters asked Hannah (Anderson) how it feels to be the hunter instead of the hunted. That is how it feels now. We’ve got other teams coming to watch us, to scout us when they’re going to play us coming up,” said South Effingham coach Stacey Womack. “They weren’t there before.”
With good reason. The Lady Mustangs are 19-0, winning by an average of 25 points and they feature a dynamo of a point guard in Tianna Germain (22.5 points, 4.5 assists, 4.8 steals per game).
South Effingham is just a year removed from a 69-12 loss to Statesboro in the first meeting last season. The second time around, Statesboro won 57-54, and South Effingham completely turned things around this season with a 66-58 win.
Can they go undefeated? Well, it won’t be easy. Five of their last six regular-season games are on the road, and five of the six are against teams that played them close. Those teams almost certainly will be scouting South Effingham.
How’s this for pressure: New Columbia coach Kerry Sandifer replaced Dr. Phillip McCrary, who took over as the DeKalb County Schools athletics director. Sandifer applied for the job at McCrary’s urging and moved to the Decatur school from Stone Mountain.
McCrary won five state championships in his last seven years as the Columbia coach, including the last three in a row.
“The pressure mainly is internal and I like it,” said Sandifer. “Either you can embrace it or be afraid of it. I’m not afraid to go after it.”
McCrary left Sandifer one of the best players in the state in guard Tahj Shamsid-Deen and Kiair Crouch, and the Eagles have benefitted from the transfer of Kyle Wallace from Miller Grove.
Sandifer, whose club is 17-1, points to a win over that Miller Grove club in a game between schools with a combined seven state titles in the last four years as one of two red-letter wins. The other was a double-overtime tournament game against Wenonah, Ala.
“It was a shootout and we ended up pulling it out, and I thought it showed a measure of the heart of these kids,” said Sandifer.