NOTEBOOK: William Johnson leading boys and girls basketball teams at TA


William Johnson is in his second season coaching the Tuscaloosa Academy boys and first season as coach of the girls team. (Photo by Erin Nelson)


William Johnson is pulling double duty as a Tuscaloosa Academy head coach, but he doesn’t mind a bit. He’s done it before.

Johnson is in his second season coaching the Tuscaloosa Academy boys basketball team and his first leading the girls basketball team. Both squads are 8-1.

"It’s a challenge that I wanted," said Johnson, who coached boys and girls basketball teams at Fort Dale Academy and at Pike Liberal Arts. "I didn’t get any offseason practice with girls, so we kind of had to jump in in September. Once practice started, we really tried to take the philosophy to get good at what we do and not try to re-invent the wheel.

"The boys had a good summer, which has been a great thing for us because we had one day of practice and played two games. We had to use what we learned this summer to kind of start our season because we didn’t have a preseason with the boys."

Most of the players on the boys team were on the football team, which went 13-0 and won the AISA Class AAA championship on Nov. 16. Three days later, they started basketball season with a win over Tuscaloosa Christian.

Johnson coached the boys basketball team to the AISA quarterfinals last season. Joe Childers directed the Lady Knights to a berth in the quarterfinals. Johnson said Childers left to take a job at Hillcrest.

"The underlying, base philosophy is the same," said Johnson, who also coached junior high football. "We want to play good defense. We want to take good shots. We don’t want to force shots or take bad shots, and that’s something we really tried to work on with both teams."

Krissy Pruitt is back for her senior season, and Johnson gave her the role of point guard.

"It’s actually a new position for her," Johnson said. "I wanted to put a very experienced athlete there. It’s a transition that’s difficult at times, but I think that it’s in the best interest of the team and it’s worked out so far."

Senior Taylor Demonbruen starts as the No. 2 guard. Senior Chassiti Kimbrell is a starting forward. The other starters are freshman guard Addison Harrison and sophomore forward Hallie Harrison. Key players off the bench include Kaci Cochran, Carlie Cochran and McKenzie Smelley.

"Addison Harrison has really come along," Johnson said. "She worked extremely hard this offseason, and her hard work is starting to pay off.

"I am very pleased. I told the girls, ‘If you do the little things, you can be successful.’ They are actually doing a lot of the little things. They’re rebounding well. We’re making a lot of our layups. We’re hitting shots when we’re open, and we’re playing really well as a team."

Pride Snow, a member of the football team, scored 20 points to lead the basketball team to a 48-49 win over Tuscaloosa Christian on Nov. 19. Johnson said he handed out uniforms and conducted a Sunday practice before the Monday game.

"We played four games with two practices," Johnson said. "It’s difficult to transition really in 48 hours and go 90 miles an hour into basketball. You basically feel you haven’t even had time to enjoy your state championship in football, and now all of a sudden you’re being asked to play basketball games."

Snow scored 19 points Monday as the Knights downed Tuscaloosa Christian 66-63 in overtime.

"He is an extremely tough match because he shoots the ball so well," Johnson said. "He can handle the ball. He back you down in the post."

Snow is a junior forward. Sophomore Sam Brown starts at point guard. Sherman Lake and Carter Standeffer are senior guards, and junior Terrell Bush, an offensive and defensive lineman in football, starts at forward. Jaevon Walton, Kwuan Whitfield, Austin Menard and Harrison Standeffer provide a lift off the bench.

Tournament set at Tuscaloosa Academy

The Tuscaloosa Academy boys and girls basketball teams will play at home Friday and Saturday in the Tuscaloosa Academy Invitational. In the girls bracket, Morgan Academy plays Patrician Academy at 3 p.m. with Tuscaloosa Academy facing Wayne Academy from Mississippi at 6.

Saturday’s consolation game begins at 1 p.m. with the championship game scheduled to start at 4.

The boys bracket has Morgan Academy playing Patrician Academy at 4:30 p.m. Friday. Tuscaloosa Academy will play Wayne Academy at 7:30. On Saturday, the consolation game will begin at 2:30 p.m. with the championship game starting at 6.

Beard leading Lady Ironmen

Senior guard D’Tone Cox scored 12 points Tuesday to lead the Holt girls basketball team to a 39-28 victory over American Christian Academy. Holt has a 4-5 record and a first-year head coach in Torrance Beard, who also coaches the boys program.

"First of all, I’m trying to get them to buy in and just believe that they actually can play basketball," Beard said. "They get a bad rap because of the past. I’m trying to get them to believe in each other and learn how to pass and catch most of all. We hardly ever shoot the ball in practice. We do a lot of passing, catching and running."

Beard said his roster of 15 players includes five seniors and 10 freshmen.

"We’ve got some athletes, but a bunch of them are young," he said. "Haleigh Shaw is a freshman. I think she’s the only freshman who starts."

Haas takes over at TCHS

Jacob Haas, a Northside High School and University of Alabama graduate, didn’t expect to be coaching girls basketball when the school year started. Haas was going to be an assistant with the Tuscaloosa County junior varsity and varsity boys basketball teams. He started coaching the Lady Wildcats after Greer Williams resigned.

"It’s definitely been a learning experience," Haas said. "I’ve got a good team, a lot of good players.

"Our point guard (Kendra Conner) is out right now (with a knee injury), but when she comes back we should be in pretty good shape."

Katie Krout, a freshman, has posted a double double in five games. She had 27 points and 11 rebounds in a loss to Hueytown.

"It was a little intimidating, but the girls really welcomed me in," Krout said. "Katlyn Madison gets through the defense really well and can pass me the ball. I just have to lay it up."

Sipsey Valley hosting tournament

The Sipsey Valley Christmas Tournament is set for Friday and Saturday. On Friday, the girls games include Sweet Water against Sipsey Valley at 3:30 p.m., followed by Aliceville against Fultondale at 4:45. The Aliceville boys play Fultondale at 6. Sipsey Valley plays Sweet Water at 7:15. On Saturday, the girls consolation game will start at 3:30 p.m., followed by the boys consolation game at 4:45, the girls championship game at 6 and the boys title game at 7:15.

 

Andrew Carroll at andrew.carroll@tuscaloosanews.com or at 205-722-0223.