Hoopsters looking for success
Co-Lin men’s basketball team Lady Wolves hoopsters
Co-Lin basketball season has started, and its men’s team is looking to new players on a revamped squad to bounce back from a disappointing season, while the Lady Wolves are looking to the experience of returners form a team that finished 17-9 overall and reached the quarter finals of the Region 23 Tournament to propel them to success.
The men feature a roster of 15 players with seven sophomores and eight freshmen, with just two returners -- guard Jemario Hersey (Brookhaven) and forward AJ Warnsley (Byram). Hersey played in all 23 games for the Wolves last season, starting in 14, and averaged 7.8 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.1 assists per game while Warnsley played in 20 games for the Wolves, starting in 18, and averaged 11.8 points, 10 rebounds, and 1.5 assists per game.
"Both of those guys are superior athletes and that's always something that translates well to the game of basketball," says Head Coach David Sanders. "They are guys that can get up and down the floor quick, finish and make plays, and they showed a lot of veteran leadership for us last year, which I think will be important for us this season.”
Five sophomores have transferred to the Wolves -- Kaeden Laws (Southaven), Cowandric Samuel (Jackson), Jahvon Smith (Hallandale, FL), Chanse Robinson (Ruston, LA), and Andrew Anderson (Hattiesburg). Incoming freshman include Anterrian Hawkins (Hollandale), Chandler Hodges (Mathiston), Jabez Blaylock (Newton), Dylan Canoville (Plantation, FL) Justin Adams-Johnson (Hazlehurst), Deandre Brisco (Indianola), and Mike Smith (New Albany).
"I really like the group of guys that we have coming in this year," Sanders says. "We are going to have a lot of versatility and I think we are going to have a great year even though we have a lot of young guys that are going to have to step and make plays for us this season.
"Cowandric played for me at Callaway. He and Kaedan Laws transferred to us from Jones where they were a big part of their success. Chanse Robinson, Jahvon Smith, and Andrew Anderson are all Division I transfers and their college experience will be tremendous for us. Our goal with them is to push them to the forefront and get them to lead our younger guys."
Sander calls last year “a learning experience for us as a staff, especially me with it being my first year at the college level and all the challenges we faced.” He noted the Wolves were in a lot of close games and “had chances to win a bunch of those games and we just fell short in those."
"I feel very good about our chances against the conference teams this year especially with four players playing in their third year, those being Jemario, AJ, Cowandric, and Kaeden, that will all most likely be starters for us," said Sanders. "This year is a much better feel for us as coaches and the players as we have more experienced players than what we had last year."
The 2022-2023 Lady Wolves roster, meanwhile, includes 15 players: Four returning sophomores -- Kiersten Ball (Louisville), Leilani Lewis (Baton Rouge, LA), Tandria Minor (Brandon), and Zykeria Anderson (Edwards), two transfer sophomores -- Brookhaven native Ayanna McNairy from Mississippi Gulf Coast where she played in 37 games, and Summit native Jamey McDaniel coming Holmes where she played in 24 games; and incoming freshmen Lashaunte Payne (Magee), Kaileigh Bilbo (Gulfport), Kayla Howard (Shaw), A'Shante Fleming (Canton), Malaysia Tate (Summerfield, LA), Kyja Willis (Brookhaven), Ceara Myers (Baton Rouge, LA), Breanna Grant-Hall (Wesson), and Kyla Farmer (Conehatta).
Head Coach Gwyn Young says he expects the four returning sophomores to pick up where they left off last season, while “hopefully our two transfer sophomores along with the incoming freshmen will mesh well together and push us towards success this season."
"To be able to bring players in that have experience is a boost for us,” he adds. “Ayanna comes to us with two years of experience at Gulf Coast, while Jamey comes in after one year at Holmes, where they both contributed for their teams and I am expecting them to do that for us. Any experience that we can bring in helps us, especially when it is conference experience. They both know about the speed and quickness that we will face and have an idea of what the opposing teams will look like along with the level of play they need to bring for us to have success against them."
Coach Young, who has high expectations of his incoming freshmen, talks about the steps the Lady Wolves are taking to help them adjust to playing at a new level: "Most of the work goes back to focusing on fundamentals. Coach Alexus Holt, who has returned to Co-Lin as an assistant coach, is doing a lot of individual work that is helping to improve their game. Our sophomores are also helping the freshmen learn about making sure that they are in the right position and that the coaches are helping them to get better and prepare to beat the best team every time we play.”