Echoes ring throughout the gym at Clayton-Bradley Academy as Coach Denis Howes enters his third season as the Head Coach of the Middle School Boys Basketball team. Practices are up tempo and loud as he and Assistant Coach Nick Starkey push the boys to play with energy and confidence. Coach Denis is, "Impressed with their attitude and work that they have been putting in the past few weeks. You can tell that there is a lot of improvement from last year."
Tip-off is Thursday, November 7th at Grace Christian, with 8th grade captain, and returning point guard, Sam McNeal leading the way. They have 9 returning players, including 4 starters and 2 newcomers. McNeal was the highest scorer in a game last year, exploding with 24 points. He is ready to start, "I am looking forward to it, because we have been putting in a lot of work. We have been getting all of our plays down and knowing what each of our roles are. We are very guard heavy team, so we are going to push the ball, because we are so quick. We will be a fun team to watch."
Denis proclaimed, "We are looking for this season to be a good one, for a couple of different reasons: This is going to be the most experienced team that we have had since I have been here and it will also be the biggest team, size wise, that we have ever had. Defense is going to be our strength. We have added some newer things. We are going to be keeping count of the number of deflections that we get this year to see the level of our effort on that end of the floor."
On the other end of the floor they are also getting more of a jump offensively into who they want to be. Denis explained, "We have been working our new offense by putting in a lot of reps to perfect details and also scrimmaging as much as possible. Our guys have been putting up shots, really working on form and accuracy. It is all about putting the ball in the goal."
"Everyone is responsible for everyone on the team," is the main lesson Denis is wanting to teach these young men this year. They have a chance for a great year. Not only because of their experience, size and talent, but because of their leadership and who they are as great young people. Accountability is one of the Life-Skills of Clayton-Bradley and these boys always chant at the end of practice or before games, "1-2-3, Family, 4-5-6, Together." Come cheer on these Middle School Basketball Blazers as they compete in the new Division 2 of The Knoxville Independent School League. They want you to come cheer them on and help them have a great season together. Go Blazers!