Despite going 16-9 last season, it wasn’t enough for the Stephens County Indians basketball team to get to the state playoffs, as they played in a very tough region.
The #8-ranked Indians are once again playing great basketball a year later, only this time they’re looking to make sure they get a top spot in 8-AAAA in order to advance to the state playoffs for the first time in five years.
Fifth-year head coach Chad Bridges has a team that consists of three senior leaders – Nunu Walker, Malik Feaster and Cameron Trammell – so it’s still a fairly young program he has to work with. Bridges has what he says is a “Division-I player” in junior power forward De’Undra Singleton, who’s stats include a 6’7 frame and 240 pounds, while averaging a double-double of 19 points and 11 rebounds per game.
The Indians recently went on a six-game win streak, putting them at 11-3 overall, before suffering their first loss at home this season to a tough Madison County team.
“I think we got a little over-confident after winning six in a row,” says Bridges. “Hopefully this is a wake-up call for us, and we can play better down the stretch.”
Stephens County is 0-2 in region play. The two region losses (70-68 vs St. Pius & 68-62 vs Madison) show just how tough this region can be. Last year, it was that grueling schedule withing the region that kept the Indians at home instead of where they belong, in the playoffs.
“We’ll need to play better down the stretch…play through any fatigue they might have, and buckle down for the stretch run,” adds Bridges. “I think you really have four teams that are a shade above the other two in the region. Certainly, you have to bring it every night – if not, any team can beat you.”
Guys like Walker are hungry to leave behind something bigger than themselves.
“Our seniors have made [getting back to state] a focus,” says Bridges. “They have not been since they’ve been here, and they don’t want to finish the way we did last year. Nunu is a very important player, he’s a varsity player for four years now. I think for him, he’s trying to leave it as a legacy for himself, that he helped build this program and set it in the right direction.”