Tiger coach: Players kept positive attitude
Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
If hard work and determination can be used as a measuring stick for success, Hartselle High School's basketball players are headed in the right direction.
Six members of the varsity squad, five juniors and a sophomore, were back in the weight room lifting weights three days after the Tigers were eliminated from post-season competition in the 5A, Area 16 Tournament.
"I told them they could take off two weeks, but they were back in the weight room on Monday after we lost to Muscle Shoals on Friday," said head coach Johnny Berry. "I wasn't surprised but I was heartened by their positive attitude. That's a tribute to our kids."
In addition to those six players, Berry has good reason to be optimistic about other underclassmen who are moving up in the basketball program. The B-team and junior varsity teams both posted winning seasons and claimed championship titles in their respective divisions of the Morgan County Tournament last month. The eighth grade team at Hartselle Junior High School recently closed its season with a 20-2 overall record and two tournament titles. The same players went 19-1 as seventh graders.
Although his team's 7-20 record this past season left much to be desired in the record book, it was a winner, not a loser, in the eyes of Berry.
"I know the record is what people look at," he said, "but this team accomplished a lot more than what you see in the won-lost column.
"They performed well on defense and did a good job rebounding. We focused hard on that all season long and we achieved that. Defensively, I give a lot of the credit to our assistant coaches, Gary Orr and Keith Wright. We held nine of our opponents to under 50 points a game even though we lost some of those games. We defeated a Danville team that has a 26-2 record and is in the Northwest Regionals and lost by seven to Athens, one of the top-ranked 5A teams in the state.
"If you look at our schedule, you'll see that we went up against a lot of tough competition. The Sportsmed Shootout, Robert Scott Classic and Huntsville Times Classic are regarded as being among the state's premiere invitational tournaments and always attract strong teams from both inside and outside of the state.
"I'm proud of our nine seniors, all of whom worked hard and played hard. Keith Rodgers had a special season. He led our team in scoring, rebounding, minutes played and assists and had over 1,000 points and 500 rebounds in his career.
"I've enjoyed working with this team as much as any other team I've coached because of their dedication, unselfishness and desire to improve. As a coach, you can't ask for more."