Corinth Holders’ girls basketball team is in a state of transition this winter, and coach Brandy Smith doesn’t see that as a bad thing.
The Pirates enjoyed their best-ever campaign in 2014-15, winning the Two Rivers Conference and reaching the third round of the 3A state playoffs.
But following the graduation of three high-level starters, the Pirates find themselves in a bit of a rebuilding phase for the first time in school history.
To offset the losses, Smith has adopted an uptempo style that was on display Monday as Corinth Holders picked up its initial victory by coasting past Greene Central by a 47-23 total at home.
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“We are a faster team than last year,’’ Smith said. “We have been spending a lot of time in practice working on transition, and we are going to use that. We want to put (defensive) pressure on other teams. Much of our offense is going to come from transition, though we still want to be good with our half-court sets. We just have different pieces, and we need to be able to use those pieces the right way.’’
Corinth Holders’ newest piece – and one of its most effective in a full-court game – is speedy junior guard Shaniya Taylor, a transfer from nearby Cleveland High School. Taylor’s quickness, defensive tenacity and ballhandling abilities will be needed if the Pirates hope to repeat as Two Rivers champions.
“Shaniya is a true point guard,’’ said Corinth Holders’ Maddy Gladwell, one of only two seniors on the Pirates’ roster. “She makes us look good. If she sees someone open, she gets the ball to that person every time. I love the transition game we are playing right now.’’
The Pirates controlled Monday’s matchup with Greene Central (0-1) literally from the opening tap. Corinth Holders gained possession off the jump and scored just 14 seconds later on a layup from Shanan Hester.
Three who mattered
Maddy Gladwell, Corinth Holders: A four-year varsity contributor, Gladwell now finds herself as a grizzled veteran at the two-guard position. She delivered 10 points, four steals and four assists during Monday’s triumph.
“Maddy is a born leader,’’ Smith said. “She is going to work hard and do anything you ask. That’s what she has done ever since she was a freshman. They don’t make many players like her.’’
Said Gladwell: “It’s kind of crazy that I am now the player others look to when they have a question. It feels like I was just a (ninth-grader) last year.’’
Shaniya Taylor, Corinth Holders: The complexion of the Two Rivers Conference changed when Taylor transferred to Corinth Holders from Cleveland. The well-rounded standout came through with a team-high 14 points to go with 10 rebounds, two steals and three assists.
“You need a good point guard if you want to be successful,’’ Smith said. “We feel like we have one in (Taylor).’’
Melanie Tola, Corinth Holders: One of the Pirates’ top frontline threats, Tola closed with seven points.
They said it
“It’s a different feeling this year,’’ Smith said. “We are still trying to find out about some of our players – what works well together and what doesn’t. This is a new type of team.’’
By the numbers
2: The number of seniors on Corinth Holders’ young roster – Gladwell and Jasmine Best.
30: Points the Pirates had piled up by halftime, compared to just nine for the Rams from Snow Hill.
1: That’s how many coaches (Smith) the Pirates have had during their history. It’s also the same number of league championships Corinth Holders has won after taking the Two Rivers in 2014-15.
80: The percentage of offense Smith estimates Corinth Holders lost from last year’s squad, which went 19-7.