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Gators to break in pair of new basketball coaches

    Just because school's out doesn't mean the Bulloch County coaching carousel has stopped spinning.
     It’s been quite a ride on the whirligig since the beginning of 2016 -- two football coaches and a volleyball coach have been replaced in less than a year and now you can add two basketball jobs to that list. Both Bulloch Academy basketball teams will have new leadership this fall, something that will come as a shock for two programs who’ve experienced a nice bounty of success over the last five years.
     Out goes Chandler Dennard and Paul Webb for the boys and girls teams, respectively, and in steps Stacy Sikes and Dr. Hal Wilson. Both Wilson and Sikes are stepping into some fairly big shoes, considering that Dennard and Webb combined for eight region titles and a pair of state championships during their stints at BA.
     Specifically, Webb won four region titles, two state championships and racked up another two final four appearances to go along with 238 wins in 11 seasons as the girls head coach. Combined with his 272 wins as the girls head coach at Statesboro High, Webb has amassed 567 wins in 30 years as a head coach in Bulloch County.
     Wilson, who will embark on his third stint as a head coach in the high school ranks, praised Webb as an incredible teacher of basketball which comes as high praise from a man who’s learned from some of the best the game has ever seen.
     “I’ve seen over 50 college practices and have been invited to watch the USA team coached by Gregg Popovich and Mike Krzyzewski. Coach Webb is the best teacher of the game I’ve ever seen,” Wilson said. “He never gave too much info, and never made you do more than necessary.”
     Wilson was an assistant on Webb’s staff for the last three years as the latest of the many stops Wilson’s had in his coaching career. A walk-on at UNC-Wilmington, Wilson transitioned to being a student assistant and then to be a grad assistant at the University of Tennessee.
     His first two stops as a head coach were at Grayson High School and North Oconee High School in north Georgia, where he was tasked with starting two programs from scratch. But at both stops, he recorded school records in wins for a season and take both programs to their first state playoff appearances.
     But it wasn’t until Wilson went to Georgia Southern to put his Ph.D. to use as a professor of coaching education that he would find himself another job as an assistant under Webb’s wing.
     “Coach Webb is amazing. He is a fine person and coach and deserves all the recognition for what he’s been able to accomplish,” Wilson said. “I want to make sure we keep the so-called house looking the same here, even if we paint it a little differently than Coach Webb did.”
     Webb announced at the spring banquet he would be retiring from coaching for the near future to settle down with his family, leaving Wilson to take over in time to start implementing his scheme for the summer. Wilson will certainly have his work cut out for him having to replace the program's all-time leading scorer in MiKay Sands with a bevy of underclassmen starters, but a peaceful coaching transition is a good start to the Wilson era for BA girls basketball.
     The same can’t be said on the boys' side of the basketball program.
     The Chandler Dennard saga has been a tricky one to navigate. A little over three weeks ago Dennard was removed from his post as the BA athletic director in favor of former Southeast Bulloch head football coach Pat Collins. No reason on the record was given by BA or any of their administrators other than it was a “personnel issue”.
     For the last three weeks, Dennard kept his role as the director of development and as the head basketball coach. The BA boys had won four region championships in a row and with a strong core of Dra Harrison, Don Aaron and Chad Lanier intact should be a favorite for a fifth.
     However, earlier this week Dennard announced to his team he would be stepping away from both roles and Wednesday BA made it official in a press release which reads as follows:
     “Chandler Dennard has elected to pursue other opportunities. Coach Dennard has been with us for a while, during which time he has coached many of our girls and boys to Championships. Most recently, he coached the Boys' Varsity Basketball Team to a fourth consecutive Region Championship. In addition to his coaching duties, Coach Dennard served as Assistant Head of School and Director of Development. We will miss Coach Dennard, and we wish him all the best.”
     So BA was tasked with finding someone who could not only be a fundraising specialist, but who also had experience as a high school basketball coach. As it went, Stacy Sikes — a Georgia Southern fundraiser and state champion basketball coach with two children who have attended BA — fits the role like a glove.
     “You know I don’t know what happened with Dennard and quite frankly I’m fine being in the dark about it,” Skies said. “What matters are these kids and the assistants who have been caught up in the middle of this. We’ve got to pick them up and keep them on track.”
     Sikes’ last coaching job was at David Emanuel Academy where he helped guide the school to a 2007 state championship, which still stands as the only championship in the three major sports in DEA history. While at DEA, Sikes got used to coaching against Dennard and knows what style to play with his new roster.
     “I like playing fast and I like pressuring at halfcourt, so I don’t think much will change from that standpoint,” Sikes said. “We’ve got a great group of kids here, I already know most of them with my two kids having gone to school here.”
     This will be the first fall in nearly a decade that BA will have two new faces on the sidelines for basketball games, both boys and girls. But by most indications with the experience and familiarity both Sikes and Wilson carry, both programs seem to be in good hands for the near future.