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Jackets regrouping

BROOKLET — As Southeast Bulloch prepares to tip off the new basketball season, there are still plenty of questions to be answered.

The Yellow Jackets struggled last season when four new starters had to be found to replace departed seniors from the 2008-09 squad. SEB fought hard and stayed in many games, but still stumbled at times.

"Our biggest focus is to get the program going back in the right direction again," said SEB coach John Page. "We’ve been down for a couple of years now, so we need to create a good foundation to build on and work hard to improve with each week."

This year, more faces return, but the Jackets must cope with graduation losses again as last season’s leading scorer Chris Rogers must be replaced.

While it will be tough for any one player to reproduce Rogers’ stats, Page is confident that solid team play will help to pick up the slack.

"It can be a good thing," said Page. "We’ll obviously miss Chris, but it’s an opportunity for everyone else to step up. It can be a benefit when there isn’t just one person that you have to count on."

The Jackets will be led by three seniors with plenty of experience. Patrick White and David Johnson will use their size to try to control games down low while Josh Suchvosky can handle the ball well and shoot from outside.

"This year, we’re going to have to adapt," said Page. "We need to figure out the kind of team that we’re going to be and then find ways to improve ourselves."


Optimism for Lady Jackets

SEB’s girls also struggled last season, but a wealth of returning talent and some new faces have the Lady Jackets buzzing with anticipation for the new season.

"I think that we should be an improved team," said SEB coach Ryan Lewis. "We put in a lot of time over the summer and I thought that the girls looked much better. We had a scrimmage against Wayne County the other day and I think that we impressed ourselves a little bit."

The Jackets lose leading scorer Ashley Clifton from last season’s team, but return all others, including senior forward Hannah Denmark.

Denmark will look to supply the rebounding presence left behind by Clifton — who recorded seven double-doubles last season — and Lewis also stated that he expected her to be more involved with the offense this year.

The inside game was a challenge for last year’s shorter-than-average team, but four players on the SEB roster are listed at 5-foot-10 or taller this season.

"Rebounding and getting second chances was a struggle for us last season," said Lewis. "This year, we should be a little bit better prepared to handle that. Hannah did a good job down low last year, and now we have some younger girls that might step up and surprise some people."

Much of the offense figures to come from the Jackets’ talented backcourt of underclassmen.

A trio of freshmen gelled as last season wore on, and the built up chemistry of Di’Nesha Baker, Breanna Gates and Gloria Lingle should have SEB ready to come out of the gates firing.

"We haven’t talked about goals yet," said Lewis. "But I think that we all know that we can be better than last year. The girls are anxious to get the season started, and I think that they have good reason to be excited about it."

The Lady Jackets get things started tonight as they travel to Guyton for a 7 p.m. start against South Effingham in the Tip Off Classic.


Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.