By Bill Sorrell
From preps to pros with college in between, Cedric Anderson’s four sons play on every level.
The level of play for Tipton-Rosemark Academy this season has put the Rebels in first place in Division 2-A West in Anderson’s second year as head coach.
Two sons, Alex Anderson, a sophomore, and Andrew Anderson, a senior who has committed to South Alabama, helped guide TRA to a 36-35 district victory over Fayette Academy last Tuesday in Somerville and to its 16th win of the season and ninth district victory.
Aaron Anderson plays at LeMoyne-Owen and Arlington High School graduate C.J. Anderson is playing for the Atlanta Hawks’ G-League team, the Erie (PA) BayHawks.
“I have four sons and these are the last two. It’s got to be tough for them. I am speaking as a coach and they hear Dad. The assistant coaches Coach (Howard) Gray and Coach (Kirk) Richardson are doing a lot of talking to Andrew and Alex. I have learned to leave the game in the gym,” said Cedric Anderson, who volunteers at TRA and is insurance sales manager for Patriot Bank.
Against Fayette, Alex Anderson took his game to the gym scoring a team-high 19 points.
However it was Fayette’s big-man Ryan Parks, a 6-5, 215-pound junior center with aspirations to play Division 1 basketball, who led all scorers with 23 points and was the target for a game-winning play.
After Parks gave the Vikings their first lead, 35-34, since the first quarter with a basket after an offensive rebound with 1:02 left in the game, Alex Anderson put the Rebels on top 36-35 with 51.6 seconds left.
The Rebels (16-5, 9-1) then foiled the Vikings’ attempt to get a shot off with 15 seconds left.
“We set up the play to get it to 24 (Parks). Obviously they took that away and we didn’t make the necessary adjustment and get the ball to the open man,” said Mark Villinger, the second-year Vikings coach.
Parks said afterwards “I was thinking we are going to win this game, whatever it takes.”
The loss left the Vikings at 9-12 overall, 1-8 in district.
The game did show the Vikings and the rest of the league that “we can compete with anyone” said Parks. “We are scrappy, confident, athletic, fast and a smart team.”
Fayette point guard Reid Holland said, “It was a great opportunity for our team to beat a superior team.”
Fayette had lost by 12 points in an earlier matchup at TRA.
“The first time we played them a lot of us had just come from football. We had not praticed a lot and were not in basketball shape. Most of the other teams we played had already been practicing for a month prior and we came from the football field,” said Fayette point guard Rube Scott Rhea, the Vikings’ all-state quarterback.
With the season progressing so has the familiarity.
“It was a typical district game. This time of the season both teams have seen one another,” said Cedric Anderson. “The records don’t matter at this point.”
What mattered was defense in a heated rivarly that begins with football and ends with baseball.
“We are defensive minded, like the Memphis Grizzlies’ mantra grit and grind. We are going to fight hard to the end, contest every single dribble, every shot and every pass. We have a won’t quit, can’t quit attitude,” said Cedric Anderson.
“We are used to being in a hostile environment. That is what makes basketball great. That is what makes sports great.”
Andrew Anderson, who has been nursing a bruised knee, said, “Tonight we focused mainly on defense. We were trying to make them turn the ball over and get all of our points off that. That is just how we play.”
The Vikings put together a “tremendous defensive effort” said Villinger. “They are a really high-powered, high-octane team. They really like to go up and down the court and we were able to keep them at a slower pace and keep them from the rim. That is what we had to do.
“We try to give it everything we’ve got at all times whoever is on the floor. We do some good things that way. Our bench is very enthusiastic. We learn from this game that we can defend and do (other) things and we have to build on that.”
Rhea said, “We’ve always been scrappy and our coach puts emphasis on toughness. In practices we always dive for the ball whether it is in bounds or out of bounds. We never stop until the whistle blows and we take pride in our hustle.
“I don’t think people know how much and how hard we work. Every practice feels like a game and it definitely makes the game easier.”
Parks said, “We came out from the very beginning with intensity on defense and offense.”
Trailing 12-10 with 6:20 left in the second quarter, the Rebels scored 11 straight points to take a 21-12 lead. Tyson Banks scored six straight, a field goal, free throw and trey before Patrick Green sank two free throws. Kam Collier’s 3-pointer completed the run with 5:09 left before Park’s offensive rebound and put-back cut the lead to 21-14.
A trey by Ethan Petrowski gave TRA its first of two 10-point leads, 24-14, before Parks sank two free thows with 2 minutes left in the first half.
For the remainder of the half, point guards Andrew Anderson and Ryan Knight threw the ball to each other in a slow-down game that led Fayette students to chant “boring.”
“Our players had gotten a little frustrated because of the calls situation. I wanted to slow the ball down to allow them to get their composure versus going up and down and being frustrated. Regain your composure, get your feet under you, get your mind back on the game,” said Cedric Anderson.
Parks said, “I thought they were going to hold the ball and not give us a chance to score.”
The stall tactic became a turning point for the Vikings.
“We went zone and they just held the ball and that allowed us to get a break. We had one player (Holland) that had foul trouble. He was able to not get in any more danger of foul trouble. So by them holding the ball, especially with us finishing that possession without them scoring, I thought was a big momentum builder for us,” said Villinger.
Rhea said the turning point was the third quarter when the Vikings “started to get tough defensively, taking charges and upping the ball pressure. The game was hard fought. Besides the second quarter it was pretty much back and forth the whole time. TRA is a great dribble-drive team so our main focus was to stop penetration and slow them down. We wanted to control the pace of the game and limit their possession.”
In the third quarter the Rebels took a 26-16 lead. Rhea then scored after an assist from Parks, who scored four straight to pull the Vikings to within 26-22. Alex Anderson’s four points finished the TRA third quarter scoring before Fayette’s Andrew Payne cut the lead to 30-26.
Free throws by Alex Anderson stretched it to 32-26. Parks’ free throws and a free throw by Holland cut it to 32-29 with 4:39 left. The tug of war with Anderson and Parks continued with Anderson scoring two before Parks scored two.
Holland’s basket pulled Fayette to within 34-33 with 1:50 left. Fayette’s comeback fell short.
“Our coach always talks about us being a grind-it-out team. We’ve trailed several times before this seaon and made comebacks in the fourth quarter,” said Rhea, who hit the game-winning shot for a 71-70 victory over Magnolia Heights Academy after Christmas.
Said Holland, “You hate to lose against your rival, much less at home by one point. It hurts to say the least. We don’t like TRA. Against someone else we may have let that lead get bigger. But we don’t like to lose to those guys. Mainly it started as a football rivalry. We have beaten them the past four years. They usually beat us in baseball so basketball is usually the more fun game to watch and play.
“I was playing my role in helping us (win). I know every guy left it on the court.”
Alex Anderson said, “The biggest difference was the energy in the second half. Everybody came in and played hard and gave maximum effort and that is what caused us to win the game.”
Holland said, “Hats off to Alex. He is a young player who can score at will. He is already a great player and still has a lot of time to get even better.”
Alex Anderson leads the team in scoring with a 19.5 average. Andrew Anderson averages 17 and Banks 14.
Parks leads Vikings scoring with 13 points and in rebounding with 6.
“We live and breathe through Ryan offensively. It is known throughout the locker room that his No. 1 priority is to score. And he does a great job. The cool thing is, though other teams know that too, they can’t stop it. Mark it down. No one in the district can guard Ryan Parks one-on-one,” said Holland, one of two seniors along with Walter Bullwinkel.
Rhea said, “Ryan is our go-to guy for sure. It takes three people to slow him down and when he has a good night there’s no stopping him. When he gets going he makes everyone around him play better.”
Villinger said, “We understand that he (Parks) is a very, very tough matchup for anyone and he really came to play tonight.”
Cedric Anderson said that Parks has dominated TRA for two straight years.
“I am not surprised by his performance at all. He has done the exact same thing every game. He is a strong kid who goes to the basket, plays hard, plays the game the right way and with power. You have to know where he is.”
Parks, who is a wide receiver on the football team, said, “My inspiration is to perform the best I can for my teammates and get better every day.”
Every one played a part in the game that matched physical teams hungry for the win.
The game was “high energy, physical, entertaining. I would definitely have wanted to watch it from the stands,” said Holland.
Cedric Anderson agreed. It was entertaining.
Fayette took a 4-3 lead on a basket by Rhea after an assist from Bullwinkel. A 3-pointer by Payne made it 7-5 before Alex Anderson scored and Parks put the Vikings up 9-7 at the end of one. Alex Anderson made it a 10-9 lead before Parks hit a free throw after a technical foul was called on Cedric Anderson to tie it.
“I’m not sure why the technical was called but the officials evidently felt like it was warranted and I can’t argue about it,” said Cedric Anderson.
Parks said, “The free throws changed the communication for TRA because the coach had to sit and put us closer to leading and gaining momentum.”
Cedric Anderson said , “Once we decided not to worry about how the calls were going or not going and understand that we are playing on the road and going inside” helped key the win.
He told his team to “keep your composure. We have got to make plays No. 1 and make the fundamental plays, every single fundamental pass, fundamental catch, fundamental shot. I learned the same thing I have known all year, we are going to fight to the end. We are not going to give up.”
He praised the play of Petrowski who came off the bench and hit a “big jumper”. He said that Banks’ defense led the team and that Ryan Knight “did a great job defensively. He is a senior and has really played well.” Offensively, he praised Banks, Alex Anderson and Andrew Anderson, who was “injured a little bit.”
Green finished with 5, Banks 6, Petrowski 3, Collier 3.
Payne had 5 for Fayette, Rhea 4, Holland 3.
“We did some things together tonight that were real importnat. We had a lot of guys do a lot of good things. I thought Andrew Payne did a good job handling the pressure and getting the ball to the right spots and not turning the ball over,” said Villinger.
Cedric Anderson said of Fayette’s coaching staff, “Their coaches are great. They do a great job coaching their team up.”
Coaching at three Memphis middle schools, Anderson has also coached AAU. He said that eight former players are in the pros and 22 currently playing Division 1. There are also 10 girls he has coached playing in college.
“It’s phenomenal to see. These kids have put time in the gym over a period of 10 years,” said Anderson, who was a defensive back at Tennessee Tech after playing at Hillcrest High.
“I wished my boys would have played football but they are all tall and skinny. They weren’t designed for football.”
A running back and all-state defensive back with a competitive nature, Holland has committed to play football at Bethel where he will major in criminal justice, minor in education and wants to coach.
The Air Force Academy recentley talked with Rhea about playing football there.
Through Anderson’s coaching he has “a great deal of gratification when you see the kids develop. I don’t look at wins and looses. I look at the development of the kids more than about basketball. It’s about how you learn about life, how you learn work ethic, focus, execution,” he said.
The Vikings have grown this season said Parks.
“We have gained confidence in our abilities and have grown together as a team. We are always there for each other no matter what.”
There will be a second season.
“When the tournament starts everybody is 0-0 and we have to take it from there. It was a real hard fought game with two rivals giving it everything we had,” said Villinger.
Holland would love a rematch with the Rebels.
“My whole team would love it. Both schools would love it. It would be great to get after them again. I’d like to end my high school career against them in the win column but if not, the past four years of football will have to do, W W W W. A little hometown rivarly never disappoints,” he said.