Eastern Wake: Sports

Preview: Melton ready for journey with East Wake basketball

East Wake’s Quincy Jackson (24) goes up strong against Heritage senior Josh Katowitz (2) during the first half. The East Wake Warriors played the Heritage Huskies in boys basketball in Wake Forest, N.C. on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013. Heritage won the game, 65-63.
East Wake’s Quincy Jackson (24) goes up strong against Heritage senior Josh Katowitz (2) during the first half. The East Wake Warriors played the Heritage Huskies in boys basketball in Wake Forest, N.C. on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013. Heritage won the game, 65-63. newsobserver.com

After a long and successful run leading 2A Bunn High School, Gerald Melton is up for the new challenge he faces as he enters his first year as head coach of the East Wake boys’ basketball team.

Already, Melton and the Warriors are dodging obstacles. Melton didn’t sign onto the job until late September, so he missed a lot of valuable offseason time to get familiar with his players. Adding to that trouble is the football season, which has kept a couple hardwood stars on the gridiron during playoffs.

“We’ve got a new system,” Melton said. “We’re going through a learning period. We’re making progress. It’s just going to take time.”

The new coach faces the challenge of infusing the Warriors with the scheme and techniques he developed at Bunn, while also preserving the core of talent he has taken over at East Wake. It’s a delicate balance called team building.

So far, Melton insists the fresh mentality is being accepted.

“The attitude is great,” Melton said. “We’re working on how to practice hard. At the same time, we’re working on running a lot of new things.”

The football players, Quincy Jackson and Josh McLean, are natural athletes but they’ll have significant ground to make up when they make their return – an adjustment period, Melton says. Both players are returning starters.

In the meantime, the coach is working with the players he has available.

Newcomer Andrew Carroll was the first player singled out.

“He’s been really impressive,” Melton said, complimenting the young player’s conditioning, effort and basketball IQ.

Senior guards Nick Cook and Josh Siler have helped for a smooth transition of leadership. They’ve been around the varsity program for years now, so their willingness to accept Melton’s new coaching philosophy is pivotal.

“They’ve been very receptive,” Melton said of the guards. “They want to learn. They want to get better.”

This type of mentality is always noticed. Melton is naturally attracted to those who show improvement, or at least a desire to improve. Center Jaquon Horne and guard Brandon Rodgers, both seniors, caught the coach’s eye with their improvement through the first two weeks of practice.

In spite of early setbacks, Melton is enthusiastic about the potential his new team has. A fresh slate of 4A conference opponents awaits him. Still, there’s much work to be done before the Warriors can worry about conference competition.

“Right now, it’s about simplicity and patience,” said Melton, who’s working to lay new cornerstones for East Wake basketball.

“I see improvement every day,” he said. “That’s what I’m talking about right now. Let’s get a little bit stronger and better each day, and we’ll have that success at the end when it counts.”

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