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AJ Vols have new look with Reeves

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By Kim Roberts

KERSHAW – Andrew Jackson boys’ basketball coach Dale Reeves will not be the only newcomer to the Volunteers’ hardwood this season as only one starter returns for the 2007-08 hoops season.Senior post player Jonathan Belk returns as the lone starter for the inexperienced Vols.“We are really lacking experience in virtually every position except the post,” said Reeves. “Our goal is to improve over the course of the season.”The 2006-07 Volunteers finished 6-16 and Reeves would like to improve upon that mark.“We have to develop some depth if we are to play an up-tempo style of offense,” added Reeves. “Of course, we will selectively apply pressure on defense, as we are able.“On offense, junior Justin Sellers will start at the shooting guard slot,” said Reeves. “Justin has the best shot on the team and we’ll count on him for point production.“Sophomore Elijah White will open at the point and sophomore Ryan Miller will start at the four spot for us,” said Reeves. “Senior transfer Cedric Wright will start at the three and is a real slasher.”Junior defensive whiz Daniel Wright will alternate at the point with White.Wright should challenge for the starting point job as the season progresses. Senior inside player Rashawn Miller is a leader, but has an injured wrist.Junior Omar Truesdale is a hustler, who also has a nice shot. Junior Cory Ingram gives the Vols some quality depth on the inside. Junior Andrew Phillips adds depth at the guard slot.Reeves, a 15-year veteran head coach returning to his alma mater, said he believes the Vols will improve.“Theses players have worked hard to understand our system,” said Reeves. “Experience is one of the biggest hurdles we face. As the season progresses, I hope we will become more comfortable with what we have been practicing.”The Volunteers play in Conference VIII-AA with Lee Central of Bishopville, Cheraw, Central of Pageland and Buford. The coaches preseason selection in order is Lee Central, Cheraw, Central, AJ and Buford.Alex Fair and Landon Reeves will assist Reeves. Chad Faulkenberry will handle the junior varsity coaching duties.Whereas the boys’ squad is inexperienced, the AJ Lady Vols are all juniors and seniors for veteran coach Dennis Farmer?? “We have five girls who have been in the system for three years now,” said Farmer. “We have plenty of experience this year.”Seniors Erica Ealy, McKenzie Stribling and Caroline Phillips return to their starting roles. Ealy will start on one wing, with Phillips slated to start on the other wing. Heady Stribling will handle the point-guard duties.Ealy earned the Lady Vols’ MVP last season when she averaged 11.4 points and 9.3 rebounds a game. Phillips reaped the team’s Lady Volunteers Award.Senior Karmen Twitty, who averaged 5.4 points per game, will open at the forward position and junior Jazzy Gripper will start at center.“Karmen and Jazzy played a lot last year and we need them to continue to develop,” said Farmer. “Caroline and McKenzie have the best shots on the team and we’ll count on their senior leadership, along with Erica.”Junior guards Rachel Dippel, Ashley Phillips, Janice Drakeford, and Porcha Howard will be counted on to provide quality minutes. Juniors Emily Stover and Erica Jones will add quality depth at the post position.“We should be much improved this year,” noted Farmer of the Lady Vols, who posted a 5-18 mark last winter.