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WJMS basketball cruises through summer season
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    In his second season at William James Middle School, head basketball coach Brian Hall has built a family atmosphere with his players. With hard work and commitment, the Knights recently finished their summer league schedule with an unblemished 18-0 record.
    Despite a 33-3 record in the past two summer league seasons, Hall said his team doesn’t focus on the wins and losses. The main goal for his team is to have fun and continue to improve.
    “Winning is always more fun than losing, but we never talk about winning and losing. I tell them don’t worry about winning. One of our biggest things is to just have fun,” Hall said. “If you do the little things right it will take care of itself. We just try to let the kids have a good time.”
    The Knights had close to 50 boys from grades sixth to eighth try out for the team in June. Due to the large number, the team could only dress out about 25 players at different times in the summer.
    However, not being able to dress out didn’t deter some of the boys. In fact, most of the players still came to summer workouts.
    “We’ve probably had about 35 kids that haven’t missed a practice. We still average right around 40 kids every workout. We had nine returners from last year’s team that were here this summer and some of them got really good experience and we had great leadership last year,” Hall said.
    In July, Hall said the team focuses on the fundamentals of the game. He also added that his team emphasises defense first.
    “We talk about defense a lot. Last year we had a really good team and they played really unselfishly. They are learning how to play with other people. We’re a tight group,” Hall said.
    The Knights have become so close that the team ends each practice by saying, “1, 2, 3 — family.”
    About three years ago, assistant coach George Shaver became a part of the Knights’ family. Coaches don’t get paid for the summer workouts, but that doesn’t stop Shaver from giving back to the kids that play for him.
    “It’s great to see the kids really work hard all season and be focused on getting better. (Coach Hall) doesn’t focus on wins, he’s just worried about getting better each day,” Shaver said.
    When Shaver isn’t at the gym helping the Knights in practice, he works full-time as a department director for the Regents Center for Learning Disorders at Georgia Southern University. Shaver said working with the Knights is just one of the ways he enjoys giving back to the community.
    “I enjoy working with the kids and I like to invest in a young person’s life. What we do, it feels like it’s something meaningful,” Shaver said. “We see a lot of improvement with the kids.”
    Practice for the Knights will continue until the start of school. Practices for the team are Tuesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

    Horace Holloman may be reached at (912) 489-9408.