Posted On: 09/18/18 11:00 AM

The Kirby Cougars flew under the radar last season, surprising teams in the 15 AAA District.

Kirby’s head coach, Retushas Spears, knows not to expect the competition to take the Cougars for granted two years in a row. Kirby was picked to finish last in its district but ended up finishing fifth, which took some eyes by surprise.

Southwind, which will be led by senior forward Kameron Jones, will probably be the favorites to win district again, but the Cougars may have something to say about it. Unlike the Jaguars, Kirby returns a lot of important pieces from last season. The Cougars have a chance to build off their success from a season ago.

Kirby defeated Collierville in the 15 AAA District tournament before moving on to the regional tournament where the Cougars suffered a loss to eventual state champion Memphis East High School in the first round.

For the first time in a while, the 15 AAA District title could be up for grabs.

“We’re better because we have matured, but we still got a lot of work to do,” Spears said. “We’re going to be a grit-and-grind type of team. It’s not like we’re going to be able to walk out there and people are just going to lay down.”

In order for Kirby to have success this upcoming season, senior forward Daquarius Harris will have to play well. Harris is a 6-foot-6 post player with athleticism. He can play multiple positions. Harris averaged 16 points, 10 rebounds, and four blocks a game last season.

Spears thinks Harris is a special player because of his eagerness to learn.

“He’s an athletic specimen. He can jump; he can run, but, when I first got him, he was still raw,” Spears said. “A lot of times when you get some raw kids, they think they know it all, but he understood that he had a lot of growth to do so he was willing.

“I’m sure most coaches love it when they get kids who want to learn. He would call me during the summer. He would call me on the weekend. He sees that he can get a lot better.”

Another senior to lookout for is 6-2 guard Dontae Horne, who averaged 16 points, four assists, and two steals last season for the Cougars. Spears thinks Horne, who grew up in a basketball family, can easily average between 20-25 points a game this upcoming season.

“He will definitely be an offensive threat this upcoming season,” Spears said.

Daveonne Warfield is an uprising sophomore who had an up-and-down freshman campaign. He averaged eight points, three rebounds, and two steals as a true freshman. Spears has been working with Warfield on trying to be a consistent player each time he steps onto the court.

“He had some big games last season. I think he scored 15 or more points, maybe in three or four games,” Spears said. “But he was just up and down.”