Basketball coaching nerve-racking

Published 4:19 pm Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I’m not a coach, but from observing coaches in all sports through the years, I have determined that basketball is probably the most nerve-racking sport to coach.

There is no other sport that can change complexion so quickly. That has become even more the case in recent years with the introduction of the three-point shot.

The Bainbridge High School Bearcats’ Friday night game against the Marianna High School Bulldogs in Marianna, Fla., is a prime example of what I am talking about.

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Coach Rickey McCullough’s Bearcats, who are 13-3 on the season, jumped out to 32-12 halftime lead behind the shooting of Antroine Williford, James Lodman and Davario Thomas, who all finished in double figures.

Williford led the way with 12, Thomas scored 11 and Lodman put on 10.

Melzie Johnson, who finished just below double figures with 9, was a rebounding force in both the first and second halves.

Marianna, which is 13-5 on the season and one of the top Class AA teams in Florida, came out in the second half and demonstrated just how quickly the complexion of a basketball game can change.

“We had a really good first half, but a I knew Marianna was good and would make a run in the second half,” McCullough said after the game.

Led by Trey Long with a team-high 19 points, they roared back to cut the lead to 12 on several occasions, and if a few shots had not just rimmed out in a few key moments, they would have gotten it below double digits.

Nothing has done more to change any sport in the last number of years than the three-point shot has done to change the game of basketball.

If you have one or two good three-point shooters, you can cut deeply into a lead quickly.

Also in basketball, the coaches are closer to the action than coaches in any other sport. That makes the sideline tension even more intense.

While covering basketball games involving the Bearcats and coach LaTreisha Moon’s Lady Cats, I try to keep an ongoing play-by-play, listing the clock time, the number of the players taking a shot, the type of shot they are taking, and the running score of the game.

Without dedicated friends like Billy Simmons Jr. and Frank Brown sitting next to me and helping me keep up with the action by calling out the shot makers name and number, that job would be much more difficult.

Basketball, probably more than any other sport, keeps fans on the edge of their seat from beginning to end.

The coaches, players and fans can never relax.

In conclusion, I would just like to congratulate coach McCullough, his Bearcats and coach Moon and her Lady Cats, which have a 9-5 season record, on strong seasons and wish them well as they begin their Region 1AAAA schedule against the Americus-Sumter County High School Panthers and Lady Panthers Friday night at the Decatur County Memorial Coliseum.