Gray says he’ll remain head coach as AC resumes today

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 9, 2004

WOODVILLE &045; For once, no change is good.

The Adams Christian Rebels won’t have to begin playing for another new coach now after headmaster John Gray opted to stay on as head coach of the team. Plans were for him to coach until the 2004 portion of the team’s schedule where football coach Keith Walters would assume the role, but that changed.

Gray will continue coaching as the Rebels participate in the WCCA New Year’s Day Shootout at 5:45 p.m. Friday against Centreville.

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&uot;I’m just going to finish them up,&uot; said Gray, who took over after son Ricky Gray resigned from the position just before the school year. &uot;Coach is getting ready to have spring football, and he needs to get ready for it. It was just going to handicap him to do both of them. I’ll just go in there and do the best I can with them.&uot;

Gray’s decision to stay on was a welcome one for the Rebels, who would have had a fifth head coach in five years had he stepped aside. Walters was the immediate replacement for the job, although another candidate resurfaced late but wasn’t able to accept the job.

Had John Gray stepped aside, his successor would have been the fifth coach in four years for the Rebels. Ricky Gray coached the 2002-03 season, Bruce Pickle in 2001-02 and Paul Hayles in 2000-01.

&uot;That would have been my fifth (coach),&uot; senior guard Glenn Williams said. &uot;There’s been a lot. I’m glad Mr. Gray stuck with it. I like him, and I think everybody is starting to adjust. I think as long as he stays, we’ll be ready to go.&uot;

That reason may have been the deciding factor for Gray to stay. His system isn’t a distinct difference from his son’s, and the Rebels have taken to him with a 10-5 record heading into Friday’s game.

But when he met with players and parents about the possibility of leaving, they didn’t want to have another new coach.

&uot;That’s what they told me,&uot; John Gray said. &uot;They had already had so many coaches. After I found that out, I thought it would be better to stay with them.&uot;

The Rebels have gotten out to a solid start this season with a number of returning players from last year, but there’s the little differences that separates it from last year’s squad that made the MPSA Overall tournament for the first time in more than 20 years.

&uot;Mr. Gray likes to shoot the ball more than Coach Gray did, but they’re pretty much the same,&uot; Williams said. &uot;They like running the floor.&uot;

The Friday game will give the Rebels a chance to get back into a rhythm of playing game following the holiday break. That’s probably the biggest positive of the entire tournament for the 16 teams involved as action begins at 11:30 a.m. Friday with Oak Forest and Huntington’s girls.

&uot;We’re going in starting all over again,&uot; John Gray said. &uot;The system is in, but they’ll be starting over for us. We’ve had about two practices, and we’ll go play Friday. We wanted to play two games, but we couldn’t work it out. Then we get out two toughest conference games (Central Private, Hillcrest) in the first week back. So that’s not good.&uot;

WCCA’s boys, meanwhile, will get back on the hardwood after almost a two-week layoff since last beating Amite School Center Dec. 20. The break couldn’t have been at a worse time after the Rams were just starting to get into basketball shape following the end of football.

The Rams (2-4) will face Ben’s Ford at 8:15 p.m. Friday and Bowling Green at 5:15 p.m. Saturday.

&uot;We’re coming together pretty good,&uot; WCCA head coach Ray Olive said. &uot;We’re looking forward to the shootout. We’re sitting pretty good right now in district and feel pretty good about ourselves. I’m ready to play a game. We’re tired of this layoff, but we’ve had a good week of practice.&uot;

The two games will give the Rams a chance to continue to work on their guard play and find consistent scoring after losing Jason Reed to graduation. The team has plenty of size underneath with Lavelle Johnson, Chris Cavin and Brad Pritchard and have Randy Harris and Trenton Nettles on the perimeter.

Shots sometimes haven’t fallen, as in their 39-19 loss at home to Trinity.

&uot;We’ve got to handle the ball better, but we’re working on that,&uot; Olive said. &uot;We lost a big scorer last year with the Reed kid, and everybody is kind of looking for (Reed) to shoot. I’ve got a whole offensive line playing. The first few games were tough. Everybody was getting plenty of playing time because we stayed in foul trouble.&uot;

On the girls’ side, the Lady Rams sure would like to pick up where they left off prior to the Christmas break when they beat Amite School Center for their first district win. The Lady Rams will face Ben’s Ford at 7 p.m. Friday and Bowling Green at 4 p.m. Saturday.

The Lady Rams’ offense centers around post player Erin Ashley along with senior Virginia Lewis at point guard.

&uot;They were playing pretty well at the end,&uot; Lady Rams head coach Sam Byrd said. &uot;The kids started playing better basketball. We gave them a week off and started practicing this week. We’re real pleased with how they’ve worked this holiday season. We just hope we can build on it and go from there.&uot;

Also in the girls’ bracket, the Adams Christian Rebels will face Centreville at 4:30 p.m. Saturday in their lone game of the shootout. The Lady Tigers, however, will come back and play at 11 a.m. Saturday against Huntington in their first games back from the break.

The Lady Tigers up until the break relied heavily on the services of post player Jenae Jackson, a USM signee, but now the guard play of Ash Brashier, Kelly Simpson and Brittany Boatner has picked things up.

&uot;We had played triple-A teams and Presbyterian Christian up until then,&uot; CA head coach Penny Sawyer said. &uot;But the rest of our schedule &045; our schedule has been hard this year, which will pay off at the end of the year. They (guards) are doing much better. The girls have stepped up, are playing as a team and never quit hustling.&uot;

The perimeter play has helped Jackson find more scoring opportunities of late and less double- and triple-teams on the block. She is averaging about 15 points and 11 rebounds a game but had one of her better games just before the break by hitting 28 in a 59-26 rout of Silliman.

Jackson had 31 against Amite School Center Dec. 13.

&uot;A couple of weeks ago she was having to teach the team as we went because she has the most experience,&uot; Sawyer said. &uot;She didn’t have a lot of help at the first of the season, not that they weren’t trying to help. But we reorganized, and she’s coming back with her points.&uot;