• 75°

Winning basketball tradition continues

It’s still early, but I am impressed by the efforts I have seen from the Bainbridge High School Lady Cats and Bearcats basketball teams so far this season.

The Lady Cats, who are 7-0, have been led by senior forward and recent University of Illinois signee Alexis Burke and junior guard April Thomas.

Burke, who has scored in double figures every might, poured in 40 points against East Gadsden High School and 31 points against Rickards High School in the Rickards Shootout in Tallahassee, Fla.

The biggest asset for Thomas, a record-setting runner for coach Mandi O’Mara’s Lady Cats cross country team in the fall, is her speed.

She has made a lot of steals this year and driven in for easy layups. If opponents don’t take care of the ball, she will steal it in a heart beat.

Leading the Bearcats, who are 3-1 so far, are junior post Shawn Samuels and junior forward Rohan Gaines. Samuels is a tremendous leaper, and Gaines is a deadly shooter from outside.

Also contributing to the Bearcats’ early-season success are the ball handling of senior guard Jeremy Harper and the driving to the basket and scoring of senior forward Davario Worthy and junior forward Devon Baulkman.

Bainbridge High School has a strong tradition of winning girls and boys basketball.

Lady Cats coach Bobby Trawick and late Bearcats coaches Charles Bess and Lynwood Mock laid the foundation for that tradition in the 1970s.

It culminated with Lady Cats coach Ken Byrd and Bearcats and Lady Cats coach Larry Slaughter in the 1980s and early 1990s

It continued in the early 2000s with Lady Cats head coach Babs Coyle, who was on Slaughter’s Lady Cats staff that advanced to the Final Four, and Bearcats coach Jeff Page, who led his team to an Elite Eight appearance.

That brings us to current Lady Cats and Bearcats head coaches Latreisha Moon and Rickey McCullough, who both won Region 1AAAA championships and made Final Four appearances last season.

Moon was an All-Conference performer for the Lurleen B. Wallace Community College Saints in Andalusia, Ala., and the Alabama A&M University Lady Bulldogs in Normal, Ala. She led the nation in rebounding as a senior All-American at Alabama A&M in 1998 and went on to play professional basketball for the Swat team in Finland from 1998 to 2000.

Before coming to Bainbridge, she spent two seasons as head coach at Malone, Fla., High School where she posted an impressive 48-16 record, going 26-6 in 2003-2004 and 22-10 in 2004-2005. She was named Region 1AAAA coach of the year with the Lady Cats in 2006-2007 and 2008-2009.

McCullough, the 2008-2009 Region 1AAAA coach of the year, had an outstanding 26-year coaching career at Chipley, Fla., High School before coming to Bainbridge. His Chipley teams won 20 District championships and 15 Regional championships. His overall record at Chipley was an outstanding 599-229.

Coach Moon, coach McCullough and their teams continue the strong Bainbridge High School winning basketball tradition.