New faces fill Demopolis Tiger roster

The Demopolis High varsity basketball team opens its season Thursday night when it hosts rival Selma, who jumps to Class 6A this season.

The meeting with Selma is the first of a long stretch of non-region contests against formidable foes. Included among that list are contests against Choctaw County, Greene County, Linden, Aliceville, Thomasville and R.C. Hatch. The Tigers are also set for tournaments in Linden and Smiths Station as well as the Cornerstone Christian Thanksgiving Classic next week that will include host Cornerstone, Trinity and Talladega County Central.

Datrion Fultz brings the ball up court.

Datrion Fultz brings the ball up court.

“We added Greene County back on the schedule. We think that’ll be a nice rivalry mixed back in. We just think it is a good quality schedule,” Demopolis coach Rodney Jackson said. “Our schedule this year, we think it’s a schedule that’s going to build us to be able to compete in our area. We know our area is one of the best areas in the state in 5A. I’m just looking forward for us being able to compete against Dallas County, Sumter Central and Wilcox.”

Demopolis will get that chance in January when it faces those three teams twice each in the span of 17 days.

As the Tigers ready to tackle that schedule, they boast a new roster filled with fresh faces and only two returning players from last season’s squad: the senior tandem of Charles Tripp and Datrion Fultz.

“I just expect them to continue the growth that they had from last year. Datrion did a lot of good things playing on the wing for us,” Jackson said. “Charles did a lot of good things. We’re expecting that senior leadership.”

Five other seniors make their Demopolis basketball debut on this year’s roster as Dalvin Long, Johnny Carter and Demetrius Smith, and Devonte May join John Essex transfer Anthony McIntosh. Junior Demarcus Davis, junior Essex transfer Josh Moore and freshman Xavier Jowers round out the roster.

“I’m excited about this team as a whole. I’ve been excited going to practice. They’re just a mild-mannered team. They stay in the middle of the road. And that’s a good thing,” Jackson said. “I’m happy with my team. They’re selfless guys. They’ll sacrifice themselves for the betterment of the team.”

While eight of the 10 players on the roster are new to the program, Jackson has plenty of familiarity with McIntosh and Moore, a duo with which his teams have had to contend for the last few seasons.

“I’ve got Anthony and Josh. Their basketball awareness is off the charts. Anthony is very quick. He can pass the ball. He can score from anywhere on the floor. We’re definitely excited to have him. Playing against him, we used to feel like we had to shut him down,” Jackson said. “Josh brings that inside presence. Along with Charles Tripp, they should be a great tandem with that inside-outside presence.”

The other transfer on the roster is May, who sat out last season after transferring from Sumter Central.

“He’s the glue. He kind of holds the team together,” Jackson said. “He cheers us on when things aren’t going good. He’s the positive glue of the team. He keeps us upbeat and positive, keeps us in the game. I like May. I like having him around. He’s just a great kid.”

Charles Tripp goes to the basket in traffic.

Charles Tripp goes to the basket in traffic.

Success for the Tigers this season, in Jackson’s estimation, will depend not just on that trio of transfers, but on all 10 players on the roster.

“All the new guys coming in, all of them are going to have roles. How we’re going to be successful is going to depend on how quickly they can understand their role on this team,” Jackson said. “Jowers will handle the ball some and run the wing. Hopefully we’re going to continue to grow all the way through the regular season, into January, going into area play and then into the area tournament.”

The Tigers and Saints are scheduled to tip Thursday night at approximately 7:30 p.m. at Demopolis High School.