Marianna High School JV basketball coach Jeremiah Blount expects this to be a stellar season for his squad and the varsity pack as well.
He’s had a closer-than-usual look at varsity early on, standing in as interim coach for the varsity team in the temporary absence of head coach Rico Williams. Williams is expected to be courtside again soon, but Blount coached them through the recent Tip-Off Classic.
The MHS varsity squad won two decisive victories in that, emerging with a 81-61 victory over Arnold High of Panama City on Monday and with a 69-60 win over McClay High School of Tallahassee on Tuesday. The team had no loss in the outing.
Blount said depth, speed and size are positive factors for both teams this year.
“We’re going to be strong, with a lot of upperclassmen leading the younger guys,” Blount said. “It should be a good season for us. We’re well-rounded all over the court in JV and varsity. We (varsity) hope to get to the finals in Lakeland,” noting that the team made it to the final four in 2017.
As for JV, which doesn’t play the big championship at the end of the year, he said the season itself should have rewards aplenty.
“We’re loaded,” he said. “We’re coming out with a bang this year. It looks to be one of our most promising seasons. We’ve got a big unit coming in, pretty big and talented kids,” he said, noting that many will be shifting into 9th grade and JV play fresh from the old Marianna Middle School.
“We’ve got a well-balanced team and it’s going to be interesting. I hope people come out and support us because I think they’re going to enjoy this. It’s going to be a great year.”
Williams echoed Blount's hopeful view.
"When our veterans come back (they're playing football right now), we should be a well-oiled machine," Williams said, adding that he has five returning seniors on the team and a group of freshmen eager to make their marks. He and Blount work together constantly to develop the JV players and get them ready for varsity responsibilities. "At the end of this season I plan to move three freshmen up from JV to varsity, so they'll have something to strive for this season in addition to winning their games," Williams said. "We had three freshmen playing in the Tip-Off, and that's unusual-- normally, you might have one ready to play at that level, and we had only seven players on duty that night so I'm very encouraged that they were able to do so well against the teams they played...those opponents have good programs."
Williams said his varsity squad will try to consistently apply significant pressure on the ball-handlers in their defense and on offense will strive for maximum ball-movement to set up opportunities for points on the scoreboard.
The JV and varsity MHS teams take on the Cottondale Hornets at home in the first regular season game next Tuesday, Nov. 24, at 5:30 p.m. (JV) and 7 p.m. (varsity) respectively.
Marianna’s December schedule is as follows: Thursday, Dec. 3 at South Walton at 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 5 at Rutherford at 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Thursday, Dec. 10 at Malone at 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Friday, Dec. 11 at home against Bay at 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Monday, Dec. 14 at home against Mosley at 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Friday, Dec. 18 at Bay at 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Monday, Dec. 21, Tuesday, Dec. 22 in the Capital City Classic in Tallahassee; and Dec. 28-30 in the Lee County Roundball Classic in Georgia.
Cottondale will see two more cross-county games to finish November after its battle with Marianna. The Hornets varsity team will play the Malone Tigers on Friday, Nov. 27 at 7 p.m. and the Malone-Cottondale JV squads will go to court at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 30. Cottondale varsity will take the court at 7 p.m. on that date against Liberty County. Cottondale’s December schedule is as follows: Tuesday, Dec. 1 at 6:45 p.m. at Ponce De Leon; Friday, Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. against Graceville at home; Tuesday, Dec. 8 at home against Vernon; Friday, Dec. 11 at Sneads at 7 p.m.; and Tuesday, Dec. 15 at Chipley.
Malone’s December schedule is as follows: Tuesday, Dec. 1 at home against Sneads , JV at 4:30 pm. and varsity at 7 p.m.; Friday, Dec. 4 at home against Chipley, JV at 5:30 p.m. and varsity at 7 p.m.; Tuesday, Dec. 8, varsity at home against Altha at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 10 against Marianna, JV at 5:30 and varsity at 7 p.m. and Tuesday, Dec. 15 at Vernon, JV at 4 p.m. and varsity at 7 p.m.
The Sneads Pirates December schedule is as follows: Thursday, Dec. 3 at 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. at home against Liberty County; Monday, Dec. 7 at Franklin County at 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.; Tuesday, Dec. 8 at home against Chipley at 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Thursday, Dec. 10 at home against Graceville at 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Friday, Dec. 11 at home against Cottondale at 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Monday, Dec. 14, varsity at 6 p.m. against Seminole County of Donalsonville, GA (location to be determined); Tuesday, Dec. 15 at Altha at 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Thursday, Dec. 17 at home against Bethlehem at 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Friday, Dec. 18 at 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. at home against Vernon; and Thursday, Dec. 19 varsity at 6 p.m. at Seminole County in Georgia.
The Graceville High School Tigers will play Tuesday, Nov. 24, at 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. against Poplar Springs and on Friday, Nov. 27 at 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. in Havana against Gadsden County. The team’s December schedule is as follows: Tuesday, Dec. 1 at 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. at home against Ponce De Leon; varsity on Friday, Dec. 4 at Cottondale at 7 p.m. ; varsity on Saturday, at home at 10 a.m. against Holmes County; Tuesday, Dec. 8 at 4:30 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. at Poplar Springs; Thursday, Dec. 10 in Sneads at 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Wednesday, Dec. 16 at Freeport at 5:15 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.; Thursday, Dec. 17 at 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. at home against Walton County; Friday, Dec. 18, at 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. at Holmes County in Bonifay; and Monday, Dec. 21 at home against Bethlehem at 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.