Posted On: 03/29/18 3:14 AM
Coaches, recruiters, and basketball enthusiast often look at rosters on paper and make many predictions about teams. When they see these rosters, they believe this team will be a contender, this team will be in last place, or this team will win it all. No team was this more true about than the Southwood Cowboys of 2017-2018. When many people looked at their team makeup on paper, champion (district or state) was definitely the prevailing thought that came to mind.
Season One (Games 1-17)
The Cowboys began the season with 16 of their first 17 games (you read that right) against teams who ended up playing in the LHSAA playoffs. Along with that type of brutal schedule, they had an enigmatic 6’8″ post player who missed games due to sickness or vacation (2019 P Kamren Davis), a point guard/shooting guard who came with outside distractions (2020 G Cody Dean), and a new coach (Eddie Hamilton) who demanded a lot of them all. This gumbo mixture, along with close losses to good teams, caused tension for the team. Coupled with those beginning bumps, there was the new transfer playing post (2018 P LaTreavin Black), the shooting guard moving to point (2018 G Yancey Kelly), and the doubts of all this talent meshing together. To end their first 17 games at 8-9 was a testament to the talent and ability that the team possessed.
Season Two (Games 18-34)
Surprisingly enough, the Cowboys second “season” started with two losses. They lost to Huntington on the scoreboard and they lost Kamren Davis. By this point, they had lost Cody Dean as well. Instead of chalking up this season as a bust, Coach Hamilton and the rest of his troops found a new way to play offense and resurrected their season. The old starting five of Davis, Black, Kelly, Dean, and (Maliq) Smith was replaced by a more energetic and free flowing group which played as a cohesive unit.
Yancey Kelly, 5’10”, 2018, PG/SG – When he finally embraced the fact that he was going to be the primary ball- handler, his game took off. Yancey learned how to facilitate the offense on some nights and place others in the position to score. His foot speed and ability to use the dribble became weapons that allowed him to be dangerous whenever he had the ball. The loss of two players actually allowed his game to expand to the player that finished the season.
Rod Stinson, 6’3″, 2019, SG/W – Rod went from an on again, off again starter to Kelly’s full time back court running mate. He excelled at shooting the three point shoot and guarding the opposing team’s primary scorer. As his playing time grew, so did his confidence. By season’s end, Stinson became one of the most feared players on the Cowboys roster because of his scoring ability.
Christian Caldwell, 6’5″, 2020, W/P – When Kamren Davis left, Caldwell’s minutes went from non-existent to playing 20 solid minutes. Christian’s ability to switch on defense and guard smaller players with his length allowed the Cowboys to defend better. His willingness to get out and run the floor also allowed the offense to become more threatening. Caldwell became a much needed spark plug for the Southwood’s offense.
SD Ellis, 6’3″, 2019, SG/W – For a player who needed space on the offensive end for his game to flourish, the two departures from the program could not have helped more. Ellis went from being tentative and questioning himself into a confident mid-range and long distance shooter. Towards the end of the season, his on ball defense even improved. This made the team defense better as well.
LeTreavin Black, 6’5″, 2018, P – When Black was allowed to resume his role as primary glass cleaner and paint defender, his all around play improved. He went from a player trying too hard to do everything on both ends of the floor to playing his role. Once this happened, the player that was ranked in the top 50 of the PHLA 2018 list returned. The team ultimately benefited as well.
Bobby Baker, 5’7″, 2019, PG – Defending and disrupting what opposing guards do was his specialty. He took over some games with his defensive ability.
Maliq Smith, 6’0″, 2018, SG – Smith led the team in charges taken. He was also a willing corner three shooter who could be counted on to play his role.
The changes in the second half of the Cowboys season allowed individual players to grow. This also allowed the team to grow. Even though the roster on paper changed, the expectations of Coach Hamilton never did. With players becoming more accepting of their roles, the team won five of their last seven and made it to the 5A quarterfinals. Because of their growth from their tale of two seasons, the Southwood Cowboys under Coach Hamilton will be a force to reckon with on the court as well as on paper.