WHILE an 11-win season isn’t Jackson County’s ultimate goal, coach Britt Beaver said there are small indicators that suggest the Panthers’ campaign last year garnered them a little bit of respect.
“Teams know that it’s not ‘let’s schedule Jackson County to get an easy win,’” Beaver said. “I got less calls this year. Everybody wanted to play us before.”
The hope is the bump in the win total gives this year’s team a little swagger this year, even though Jackson County suffered some key losses from last winter’s turnaround season.
The departed include sure-handed, field general point guard Alex Crawford, speedy shooting guard Jarvis Shaw and post player Ben Weaver.
But Jackson County’s outside sniper, senior Kolin Zimmer, is back and is said to have improved his ball-handling and quickness.
“We’re going to look to him,” Beaver said. “We won’t win looking to one person. We know that, but boy he’s a heck of a shooter. He’s looked really good in the preseason.”
Zimmer — who averaged double figures last year — will play the three spot this year, while a potential rising star in Xavier Harper, a slasher with a lot of athletic ability, should fill in at the two.
“Xavier improved so much this summer,” Beaver said. “I couldn’t believe how much better he had gotten.”
Meanwhile, senior Jared Scott will play the four spot but has the ability to shoot the ball well and can play the three as well.
The 6-5 Reno Messler, a junior, is a true post at the five spot. He’ll split time with Kevin Lineburger, more of the finesse post player between the two.
One of the keys to the season is getting consistent point guard play. Richie Rodrigues and Pete Thao are fighting for the starting job. Still, Jackson County may not have a true point guard in the sense that it had with Crawford, so the Panthers may have to rely on some two-guard fronts.
Another player in the mix is the quick Nick Corso, a sophomore who will play the three spot also, as well as junior transfer Mo Wade, a really fast guard who can shoot the ball. Wade could play point guard or shooting guard. In fact, Jackson County has the quickness to perhaps bring a running group on the floor to act as a change of pace to the Panthers’ trademark, disciplined half-court sets.
“We may almost run it like, this is our run-and-gun group and this is our patterned (offense) group,” Beaver said.
Rounding out the varsity roster is sophomore Andrew Forgarty, who can shoot well, Beaver said.
Jackson County was very competitive in the subregion last year— finishing fourth — and hopes that’s the case again. Beaver, however, said his team probably has the least amount of returning starter in the subregion.
So success this year will rely largely on defense.
“Our crew is going to have to be sharp,” Beaver said. “And our defense is going to have to be tough this year. We don’t have the scoring threat that we had last year. We’re just going to have to play really good defense and be smart and we’ll be alright.”
From 2000-2002 Jackson County Boys basketball was one of the strongest basketball teams in Northeast Georgia. We did something no other team in 35 years and that was go to state. We started young preparing ourselves for high school and our future. Three of us went on the play college basketball because we started young. I think the coaches need to look at their game plan and throw it away because its not working. They need to get advice because nobody just wants to compete they want to win. My brother chose to go to another school because he wanted to put himself in a position to win. If the coaches were actually teaching the players fundamentals then they might have a better chance to win. Hope the season is a success but as I mention before new game plan please! I get tired of reading articles of Jackson County losing another game or we're getting better. I hope you're tired of that!!! I know I am!!! One last thing, if you want an real alumni game please contact the class of 2002 boys basketball team.