PREP BASKETBALL: Addison gearing up for new season on the hardwood

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ADDISON, Ala. — The 2020-2021 Addison basketball season was a success as the senior laden Bulldogs won the Winston County Championship and the 2A Area 13 Championship. However, they fell short in the area tournament to a Winston County team that they had beaten three times earlier in the season. This Addison team will be a much different team due to the departure of Addison’s all-time leading scorer, Logan Wilkins, and several other key contributors.  

Third year Addison Coach Ben Mastin believes that last year’s success and their failure to meet their own expectations will help this year’s team reach even more of its goals.

“I think that our upset loss to Double Springs last year in the Area tournament, which kept us out of the playoffs, has motivated our team and has taught them a valuable lesson. If you don’t bring your A-game and best effort each and every night, then it doesn’t matter how many times you have beaten a team you can still lose,” Mastin said. “We had beaten Double Springs three times during the season and when it counted most, Double Springs wanted it more. I’ve told the guys over and over that we have to finish games. We let two or three games get away from us last year, after we had a big lead and didn’t put them away. I don’t think that is going to happen this year.”   

The 2021-2022 Bulldog Basketball team will be very young this upcoming season. Maybe not in age but definitely in experience. 

“We lost about 75% of our scoring and 80% of our rebounding from last year. We won’t be as big as we were last year, so we are going with a three-guard lineup,” Mastin said. “Our defense will remain the same as we will continue to press and play hard-nosed man to man defense.”  

Coach Mastin believes that this is his most athletic team that he has had in his three years. 

“Jed Wilkins is a freshman and he is a very good athlete. He is going to start as our point guard, and he is only a freshman. Jed will be the first Freshman that has started for me. With his ability to handle the ball and play the point, that gives me the flexibility to have Eli (Howse) and Brady (Gilbreath) play the shooting guard positions,” Mastin said. “Eli will play the two and Brady the three. Both those men can shoot, and Eli is one of our leaders. I also think that Briley (Hayes) is another young guy that can contribute. Briley is a lefty, and this will be his first year on varsity.” 

Eli “Curly” Howse is one of the returning starters from last year’s team. Howse is a three-year starter and a senior. Brady “Sticks” Gilbreath is a junior, and this is his first year starting after being a key contributor off the bench last year. Briley Hayes is a junior.

With the Bulldog Backcourt seemingly in good hands with a veteran in Howse and two young, talented players in Gilbreath and Wilkins but the frontcourt is a little bit of a different story.

“We lost a lot in size and experience with Logan (Wilkins) and the Barley Twins (Quentin and Xavier) graduating. We have Christian (Roberts) coming back for his Senior season and he was a key part of our team last year,” Mastin said. “But Christian is a bit banged up from football and we don’t know how his knee is going to be to start the season. We may keep his minutes down until he is completely healthy. Christian is a solid all-around player for us and a leader. I expect him, when healthy, to pick up where he left off last year. I am expecting Justin (Mather) another Senior, to provide us with some solid rebounding and defense. Justin is as tough as nails, and no one will outfight him for a ball.”   

Coach Mastin believes that Freshman Bradley “Big Foot” Willette can contribute in a meaningful way this season. 

“Bradley is a legitimate 6’5″ and thick. If he continues to improve and work hard, he can be a big contributor not only this year but in the future,” Mastin said. “The big thing for Bradley is this will be the first time he has played on the varsity level, and they will be guys as big or bigger than him, so that will take a bit of getting used to for him. We just need Bradley to focus on rebounding and playing defense, his points will come.”

Coach Mastin preaches leadership, and he thinks he has two outstanding leaders on this team in Howse and Roberts.

“Eli has really matured a lot this past year and I know that Christian and Eli will be my leaders on and off the floor. They are committed to doing the right things to make themselves and our team better. They are my two returning starters, and they felt the sting and pain of losing to a team that they knew we were better than. That loss kept us from realizing our dream of reaching the playoffs. We had a ton of expectations on our team last year. Not only from ourselves but from the students and community and we failed to live up to those. There was a lot of pressure on the kids, and it is pressure that the basketball team hasn’t felt here in a long time, and it was something that the basketball kids haven’t had to deal with in the past. That kind of pressure is usually reserved for the football and volleyball teams here. I personally love it because it shows that the fans, students and community care about your sport. I think that we will surprise some people this year.”   

When asked about Addison’s chances in the region, Coach Mastin was straight forward. 

“Last year I thought we were the favorite with Cold Springs a close second. This year with our graduation losses, Cold Springs and Double Springs losses as well, I think Falkville is hands down the overwhelming choice to win the Area,” Mastin said. “But I think that we are going into the season with the right attitude. Our goals, as always are to win the County, the Area and make it to state. I believe and I think that this team believes that we can accomplish all those goals. We have absolutely no pressure on us this year since we lost a bunch of guys that had played a lot of basketball here and no one thinks that we will be as good. I think we have the talent and desire to excel on and off the court this upcoming season and I can’t wait to get started.”

Addison opens the season at home November 19 against the Meek Tigers in a county matchup.

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