Wetumpka saw its basketball seasons come to an end last week when the Indians were knocked out in the first round of the Class 6A Area 5 tournament last Tuesday. The early exits were disappointing for Wetumpka but both teams saw a group of young talent provide a spark on the court and build some expectations for the future.
“I think we underachieved a little bit this year and it was a disappointing finish but we laid a good foundation,” Wetumpka boys coach Byron Gaskin said. “We have a few younger guys with some talent and we have an up and coming group to fill those holes left by our four seniors. I’m ready to get to work right now. I want to see what this team can do.”
The boys team (7-15) lost eight of its final 10 games. Wetumpka saw its season cut short by rival Stanhope Elmore as it knocked off the Indians in the playoffs for the second consecutive year.
“Regardless of when you play Stanhope, it’s going to be a big rivalry,” Gaskin said. “It stings a little bit more now though. I don’t think it’s going to be our focal point during the offseason but we will remember it.”
Zeylin Hooks and Tyquan Rawls led the team in scoring in their final seasons but they also got plenty of help from some underclassmen along the way. Stone Minnifield quickly got into the starting lineup early in the season and provided a third scoring option and a reliable source of rebounds.
“Stone had a great year,” Gaskin said. “I wasn’t completely surprised by his play but I still think his big year is coming up. He’s just scratching the surface so I’m expecting big things from him in the next two years.”
Sophomores Robert Rose and Brelyn Young saw plenty of minutes along with juniors Michael Bass, Steven Robinson and Rudarius Anthony. With most of the roster expected to return next season, Gaskin said he believes building team chemistry could be easier in his second year which was a challenge early this season.
“With it being my first year and the football guys coming in late, it was tough,” Gaskin said. “But from Game 1, we really improved as a team. The chemistry came a long way and we started clicking as a team.”
Despite outscoring Stanhope Elmore by 17 points in four meetings this year, Wetumpka’s girls team (6-13) saw its season end at the hands of the Mustangs too. It dropped its final four games.
Wetumpka will need to see improvements from the returning players next year if it wants to be more competitive. Wetumpka allowed too many teams to run away during the second halves as it lost 11 games by double figures including five by 20 or more points.
Fortunately, Wetumpka got plenty of playing time for girls returning next season and those players led the team to much of its success. Sophomore Janae McCall took over point guard duties early after Cederia Dennis went out with an injury and McCall quickly became the leading scorer.
Morgan Causey continued to be a force in the paint on both ends of the floor, leading in rebounds and blocks. Ja’Nya Davis, Zariah Fannin, Khloe Harris and Angel Knight got plenty of time and are all expected back next season as Wetumpka looks to take the next step forward.