Lady Tigers bring experienced roster into 2014-2015 season

Caleb Washington is just one of two seniors on the 2014-2015 Demopolis Lady Tiger basketball roster.

Caleb Washington is just one of two seniors on the 2014-2015 Demopolis Lady Tiger basketball roster.

The Demopolis Lady Tiger basketball team is set to begin its season in earnest Thursday night when it hosts an old rival in Class 6A Selma.

The Lady Tigers opened their season nearly two weeks ago when they lost 51-39 to Class 7A Tuscaloosa County. Demopolis bounced back Saturday, Nov. 8 with a 56-29 win over Sumter Central in a non-region clash.

The first three games are indicative of a loaded schedule that will see the DHS ladies face a variety of talented teams from Birmingham to Butler.

Junior wing Ivery Moore is part of a core group of returning players that will be expected to take a step forward for the 2014-2015 season.

Junior wing Ivery Moore is part of a core group of returning players that will be expected to take a step forward for the 2014-2015 season.

“Talking with my assistant coaches, we felt like we needed to see a different brand of ball than we’ve been accustomed to,” Demopolis coach Tony Pittman said. “Hopefully, making it to the regional and state tournament, you’re going to see different levels of game. We wanted to be proactive in that.”

The Lady Tigers opened the season in the Central-Tuscaloosa Tip-Off Tournament and will play a non-region slate that includes a tournament stop at Ramsay High in Birmingham. Other non-region dates include contests with Choctaw County, Greene County, Linden, Aliceville, Thomasville and R.C. Hatch. Those contests serve to set the table for a January schedule that will see six area games against Wilcox Central, Sumter Central and Dallas County.

“That’s going to be a plus,” Pittman said of the fact that his team will play none of its area games before Jan. 6. “It gives us the opportunity to get our legs underneath us. I feel like that is going to help us tremendously going into area play.”

As Pittman readies to take his team headlong into this season’s schedule, he takes with him only two seniors on what proves to be a youthful yet surprisingly experienced roster.

“Leadership from all areas,” Pittman said of what he expects from his players. “We have a very good nucleus coming back. We have a group that is experienced. They’ve been through the battles. They know what it takes to win in this area. We’re very excited about this upcoming season. Hopefully we can do quite well.”

That Demopolis roster includes senior post player Caleb Washington, juniors Ivery Moore and DeeDee White and sophomores Darnesha Harris and Sylvia Clayton. That group stands as the core returning players from a team came within moments of beating Central-Tuscaloosa and advancing to the regional tournament last season.

Sophomore guard Sylvia Clayton will have every opportunity to run the point guard spot for the Lady Tigers in the 2014-2015 season.

Sophomore guard Sylvia Clayton will have every opportunity to run the point guard spot for the Lady Tigers in the 2014-2015 season.

The Lady Tigers also feature junior Courtney Hill and senior Ebony Moore, who each missed most or all of last season, as well as sophomore Charmaine Hawkins and freshmen Traqueshia Vaughn, Alexus Keller, Shakesaney Bell, Keyjana Waller and Jon-ne Rembert.

“The one that really stands out to me right now is Courtney Hill. We lost Courtney last year to a knee injury and she is back. She’s going to bring some much needed outside shooting to help open things up for our bigs on the inside,” Pittman said of the contributions he has seen from his newcomers thus far. “Shakesaney Bell is very athletic, can jump and just needs to learn the program and how we doo things on the varsity level. I think she is going to help us tremendously. Ebony Moore is big, can be very physical down there and can run the floor extremely well. She’s going to bring some additional depth in that post position. We’re very excited for her as well.”

The roster stands as one of the most balanced groups Pittman has had in his tenure, leaving the long-time head coach and those in and around the program with high expectations for the 2014-2015 season.

“Our first goal is to win our area and everything feeds off that. If we can win our area, it’s going to open the door for a lot of successful things to happen for us. Our goal is hard work,” Pittman said. “That’s the thing we’ve been preaching to our students. We’re pushing very hard and with the hard work put in on the court, we’ll be able to win our area.”

The Lady Tigers and Selma are set to tip Thursday night following the junior varsity game that begins at 5 p.m.