Marietta is off to one of its most impressive starts in program history, and it’s not alone. Allatoona, Walton, and Region 4AAAAAA rival McEachern are all trying to make the 2013-14 season one for the record books, and the four teams are combined 47-3.
Marietta (13-1) returned two thirds of its roster from last year’s team, which provides experience, but that’s not the main reason it turned things around so quickly.
All it took was simplifying its style of play on both sides of the court.
With a forward-laden roster, the Blue Devils are playing more zone defense than it has in the past.
Offensively, Marietta tried to run up to 10 different sets. Now the Blue Devils only run one.
“We do run a lot of options off of it,” Marietta coach Matt Lyons said. “It’s a flex offense. There are no play calls. We know what we’re doing. We try to take advantage of what defenses take away from us. We have one offensive set. Not a lot of people can say that. It’s been a great success.”
Having a lack of guards on the team also changes the way the Blue Devils attack the basket. Marietta
doesn’t score as much from the perimeter as it used to. Now, it scores the bulk of its points on layups or mid-range jumpers.
More importantly, players this season understand their roles, and they have taken advantage of situations when given the opportunity.
Six-foot-6 center Raynere Thornton averages a double-double in points and rebounds. Sophomore guard Cameron Jordan has matured into his role as a guard since earning a starting spot at the end of last season. Thornton’s younger brother Raveon, who is a freshman this season, is ahead of schedule in his progression as a starter and reserve.
Like Marietta, the Indians (10-2) are loaded with experienced players, especially at guard, behind senior guards Logan McIntosh and Freddy Brown. Sophomore guard A.J. Jones has improved since the tail end of last year when he got most of his playing time. With help from their guards as well as 6-6 forward Lawrence Castor, the Indians are on a four-game winning streak.
“Our guard play as been good,” McEachern coach Mike Thompson said. “Those guys have some experience.”
Allatoona is off to a perfect start with a 13-0 record and is in control of Region 5AAAAA (A) with a 6-0 subregion mark.
For the Buccaneers, it starts with defense, and they have been keeping opponents scoring in the 40s. This season, they’ve held teams to an average of 37 percent from the field.
In its win over North Cobb Christian in the finals of the Lake City Classic last week, the forced the Eagles to take shots from deep in the perimeter. The Eagles often came up short and Allatoona won 58-47.
Allatoona is also a stellar free throw shooting team and has a knack of getting to the foul line.
“We normally make more free throws than our opponents shoot,” Allatoona coach Markus hood said. “On defense, I’m excited. If you hold high school teams in the 40s, you’re going to win games. Our goal is to control the tempo with our defense.”
Walton has yet to lose this season after 11 games and is tied with arch-rival Wheeler for the Region 5AAAAAA lead. The Raiders have been successful with their pressure defense and consistently get most of their players involved in the scoring department.