Basketball season for Russellville Golden Tigers – Class 5A, Area 15
The Russellville Golden Tigers enter the 2021-22 varsity boys basketball season coming off a successful season. RHS won the area tournament a year ago but will have to replace some key contributors from that team.
Gone through graduation are the familiar faces of Chandler Dyas, Brooks Scott and Jeb Bishop. This year’s squad consists of players who have game experience on the varsity level and will be counted upon to increase their roles and production on the court, as well as younger players looking to earn playing time.
Eli Gipson, Boots McCulloch, Ashton Boyd, Nathan Brockway and Nicholas McSpadden are the senior leaders for head coach Patrick Odom, who is entering his seventh season at RHS.
“We’re looking forward to it,” Odom said. “It’s going to be a different roster. The three seniors we lost last year were with us for a long time and were highly-productive players.
“I love our roster, and I feel like we’ve got a good balance of some junior-senior experience with a 10th-grade class that is really athletic.”
Almost the entire varsity team has been participating in the 5A football playoffs, so practice time will be limited for the basketball team prior to the first game. “We’ve still got some things to sort out, and we’re not going to have a lot of time to do it with the success that football is having,” Odom said. “We’re going to be jumping right into our schedule whenever that is, but we like our guys, and we’re excited about the season.”
Strong defense and up-tempo play are common characteristics of Russellville teams under Odom, and this year should be no different.
“We’re probably going to be a little more spread-out. This group pressures well, and I think we’re very athletic,” he said. “We’ve always played fast, and this group might actually play a little faster than even what we’ve done in the past.”
The Russellville girls basketball team will be looking to grow as a group and show improvement during the 2021-22 season.
Many of the players from THIS past season’s squad will be returning this year under the leadership of head coach Jermaine Groce. RHS will get senior leadership from Jayna Poss, Leah Rushing and Maddy Green.
Also returning this season is last year’s top scorer, junior point guard Jenna Whitfield.
Anna Beth Oliver, Jacey Moore and Avery Watts also played a lot of minutes a year ago.
Oliver was second on the team in scoring last year; Poss led the squad in rebounding; and Watts led in deflections.
Seventh-grader Ella Copeland is another player to watch for this season at the guard position.
“We bring back a team that only lost one starter from last year,” Groce said. “We’ve emphasized a lot of speed, toughness and defense. We’ve definitely got to be better on the boards and rebound.”
Joining RHS in Class 5A, Area 15, will be Lawrence County and West Point. Both of those teams will be trying to replace a lot of talent because of graduation. “Lawrence County lost an all-state player, and West Point lost an all-state player, so we sit pretty decent in the area,” Groce explained. “Can we capitalize, and can we grow? Those are the things that we have to find out.”
During preseason practice, RHS has been working on the transition game on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor. Finding ways to get easy buckets on offense by creating turnovers on defense could be a key to success for this team. “We’re trying to figure out how to be better, eliminate turnovers and just take advantage of all the easy opportunities we get in a game.”
RHS BOYS ROSTER
Tilmon Baker, Junior
Ashton Boyd, Senior
Nathan Brockway, Senior
Malachi Duncan, Sophomore
Eli Gipson, Senior
Boots McCulloch, Senior
Nicholas McSpadden, Senior
Bralynn Vincent, Sophomore
Conner Warhurst, Junior
Amir Williams, Freshman
RHS GIRLS ROSTER
Ella Copeland, Seventh grade
Maddy Green, Senior
Kaylee Hamilton, Freshman
Ashlyn James, Sophomore
Nadia Mendez, Sophomore
Jacey Moore, Sophomore
Lexie O’Neal, Sophomore
Ann Beth Oliver, Junior
Jayna Poss, Senior
Andrea Quinones, Freshman
Leah Rushing, Senior
Avery Watts, Sophomore
Jenna Whitfield, Junior