By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The 2012-13 season was special for the Munford Cougars.
The team led by seniors like Sedric Pryor, Antonio Moore, Kameron Foster and Johnathan “Hurt” Stark guided the Cougars to the District 13-3A Tournament championship and a win away from Sub-State. Stark, tournament MVP, signed at Tulane University to continue his basketball career. Last season and all those achievements are apart of Cougar Basketball history now. Head Coach Butch Hopkins has to say goodbye to the group of seven. Entering the 2013-14 season, the veteran coach is ready to write the next chapter of success with a different style. Hopkins acknowledged he coaches to his personnel.
Last season Hopkins could rely on guard play with players like Foster and Stark. This year he has a size advantage.
“We have Kylon Hall back who played in and out,” he noted. “And we have Andrea’ Bell back who made All-District. That’s basically the two guys who really played.”
Hall is a 6’6 player with interior and perimeter skills. Bell is a tradition bruiser on the low block. In addition to that duo, Hopkins is anticipating the arrival of 6’3 combo forward David Hunter.
“We felt if we had him last year, we probably would have been in the State Tournament,” Hopkins said. “He’s probably the most athletic kid we’ve got but he’s never played a game.”
Hunter is a transfer from Pennsylvania. He will also help in the backcourt with incoming sophomore Reggie Holmes.
“Reggie Holmes, who played two games last year,” Hopkins recalled. “He played one really good game against Dyer County. Then he played against Hardin County and didn’t score a point. He played like a freshman. He’s a sophomore now and maybe the only guard we have.”
Hopkins said his job with Holmes is to get him to play within the offense. In the preseason Holmes has been working on playing under control and within the system. Hopkins said Holmes is blessed with great ability but has to realize he’s not on the playground.
“We’re trying to convert him into an organized basketball player as a guard and leave all that other stuff,” he said.
Holmes and all the 2013-14 Cougars have been in the gym putting up shots. Hopkins encourage his players to get 20,000 jumpers in before the season starts. Hopkins said he hopes all the time committed to the game will pay off in the new-look Cougar offense.
“With the team that we got now, who do you go to?” he asked rhetorically. “One thing that I’ve learned in 32 years of coaching, it’s hard to turn a role player into a go-to player. Johnathan was that way. So now who do we go to. Only time will tell on that.”
For the Cougars to have a chance to win the district again, teams like defending regular-season champs Dyer County and up comer Hardin County will stand in the way.
“Hardin County has most returning players and we only beat them by a point in tournament,” Hopkins noted. “Hardin County should be the favorite to win the district. Dyer County is going to drop off and we’re going to drop off. Brighton is young and athletic.”