Don’t expect Arlington head basketball coach Don Deaton or assistant coach Tim Halford to change their clothes if the Tigers continue winning.
They have enough superstition to last the rest of the season.
“We will wash them,” said Halford, who will continue to wear kaki pants, a blue Nike shirt and A-jacket, while Deaton will wear a button-down yellow shirt and kakis.
They didn’t change their wardrobe through the Tigers’ post-season run in 2014 that ended in the state semifinals with a loss to Oak Ridge.
“We have been winning here for so long, going to sub-state, state, it is expected. We don’t have the talent that we have had in the past, they all know that, but in their minds they think they are still supposed to win every time they walk out there,” said Deaton, who is in his sixth season as head coach.
The 2014 team was led by C.J. Anderson, who is a junior on the University of Massachusetts basketball team. Anderson was a finalist for Tennessee’s Mr. Basketball in Class AAA. The 2016 team was led by Nathan Hoover, who averaged 24 points and was among the three finalists for Mr. Basketball. As a freshman, Hoover is starting at Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C.
“You can’t replace Nathan Hoover. He is big-time. He was so good,” said Deaton. “Everybody has to chip in.”
In a 40-point, 69-29, victory over Kingsbury on Jan. 17, everybody did chip in.
Juniors Brogan Brewer and Garrett Golday led with Brewer sinking three treys while scoring 16 points and Golday scoring a game-high 21.
“He has done that before. He is one of our better three-point shooters,” said Deaton. “Garrett stood out.”
Golday has been averaging 21 points, calling it his “normal,” since returning from a knee injury that did not require surgery. He was sidelined three weeks with a sprained tendon that holds the kneecap in place.
“The wound heals by itself. I was lucky. It felt good and I was ready to take over,” said Golday after the District 14-AAA victory that evened the season record at 10-10 and improved to 2-1 in district.
Talking with NCAA Div. 1 colleges, Golday is the Tigers’ leading scorer while he and Ray Price lead in rebounding average. Price scored 13 points.
“Who really stood out to me is Tyler Gentry. I bet he had 10 rebounds and assists. He did everything that is not going to be in the paper tomorrow. Tyler makes everyone around him better, that is the type of good ball player he is,” said Deaton.
One of three seniors, Gentry has signed to play baseball at the University of Alabama.
“He is big-time. He is big-boy ball,” said Deaton. “He does this for fun.”
Said Gentry, who is 6-2 and weighs 205 pounds, “I like basketball because it’s very competitive, intense and fun.”
He decided to sign with Alabama after “I prayed and talked about it with my parents and we think it is the best place for me to develop in all aspects of my life.”
Arlington senior Luke Wiseman called the win over Kingsbury, which was the Tigers’ largest point-wise this season, a step in the right direction.
“We lost to Cordova and all of us were pretty mad about it. It was motivation for this game. We looked at it as our last bad loss of the season, kind of a turning point,” said Wiseman, who scored nine points against the Falcons.
“We came out a little flat and not mentally focused but we woke up in the second half. We played really well. We have been struggling a little bit lately. It was a good game to bring us together.”
Golday said, “I feel like we had confidence. I feel like we decided this is the turning point and we were not going to play sloppy again. We are going out to beat anybody and play as hard as we can go.”
The Falcons (1-10) led throughout the first quarter and, after Kelby Jackson’s basket and free throw, were ahead 6-2. C.J. Ward’s basket and a great move by Jackson that led to two points, made it a 12-9 lead. A trey by Boston Miller put Arlington on top 14-12 with 5:53 left in the second quarter.
It would be a lead that the Tigers would never lose.
Golday and Wiseman combined for the next 11 points during an 11-2 run and a 25-14 lead before DeMarcus Turner scored the Falcons’ first points in three minutes with a trey with 1:09 left.
A Tiger turnover led to Turner scoring that cut the lead to 25-21 and two free throws by Golday gave Arlington a 27-21 lead at halftime.
Defense ruled in the second half.
Arlington outscored Kingsbury 19-4 in the third quarter and 23-4 in the fourth quarter.
At halftime, Deaton told his team said Golday, “We are easily 20 points better than this team. Ya’ll just have to accept it. We are beyond better. In our head we know that we are better. We know that we can play harder than them and be better in every aspect. Wee wanted to come out there and do what we do. If we play hard, I don’t think there is a team in this city that can beat us. I play as hard as I can and the rest follows.”
Deaton echoed Golday.
“The kids play together and play as hard as they can. We are young (along with Wiseman and Gentry, injured Micha Sims is a senior. He should return this week).
“It starts with defense. We are going to try to shut them down and not let them get to the paint. We are going to stop them period. If they hit shots, they hit shots with their hands in their face. That is all we did. We try to take more pride in the defensive end and let the offense come from that.”
Usually the Tigers are in a half-court man defense. They went to a zone defense in the second half against Kingsbury. “Which we never play,” said Deaton. “They couldn’t make shots. They turned it over. We got rebounds, pushed it up the floor and got easy looks. I thought we moved the ball pretty good. We were unselfish.”
Most of Arlington scoring in the second half came on layups after steals, assists, rebounds. Price scored six of the Tigers’ first eight second half points. An assist from Golday to Price led to a two-pointer and a 35-21 lead with 4:36 left. Wiseman’s basket had made it 33-21 and Golday followed up a rebound and scored for a 37-21 lead. Brewer’s three-pointer expanded the lead.
Shaun Washington scored the Falcons’ first basket of the third quarter with 2:43 left. Brewer blocked a Falcon shot before Kolby Westbrook scored another goal for Kingsbury.
Brewer sank a trey as the third quarter buzzer sounded and the Tigers were enjoying a 46-25 lead.
In the fourth quarter, Brewer continued his torrid scoring with three straight free throws and a basket for a 53-25 lead. Price gave the Tigers a 55-25 lead before C.J. Armstrong scored the Falcons’ first points of the fourth quarter with 3:53 left.
After Price’s goal, Brewer scored five straight points for a 62-27 lead. Jake Price hit a trey and it was 65-27 with 1:54 left.
The biggest lead of the game, 69-27, came on a goal by Keegan Thomas and free throws by Virgil Evans.
“We are dealing with a first-year program, no excuses, but it is hard to put to put in a system in your first year,” said Kingsbury coach Jamie Rosser, who graduated from Memphis Overton, played point guard at Arkansas State and coached at Southeast Missouri State University as an assistant seven years before returning to Memphis.
“Now what we are doing, we are trying to deal with discipline and execute and play the right way. We played a good Arlington team. Number 10 (Brewer) and the big kid (Golday) are two of the best big mean around. They can play inside, out, they are hard to cover. They do a good job of playing good team defense. It is also hard to play on the road right now. We are going to watch some film and see if we can execute a little better against a good defensive team. Arlington is a veteran team. All of those guys are big-time varsity guys. My entire team, there is not one who had any varsity experience. We start from square one.”
Three seniors, Roger Horton, Turner and Kameron Jackson, played JV last season.
Inconsistency has plagued the Falcons.
“We play hard for a half and lay down in the second half. We will play hard in the second half and won’t have a good first half,” said Rosser.
“Every loss is bad. I don’t pin point a certain type of loss. We lost by one last game. That is the worst loss to me.”
The Falcons, who had lost to Bolton 61-60 prior to Arlington, play offense and defense according to “what my team can play right now. We are a 2-3 zone team. We will get up and press a little bit but we are mostly zone right now until we can get the athletes to play a little better man to man. Most of the teams around here play a lot of zone. We try to do something pertains to zone offense or if they happen to go man, we will stay aggressive and get to the basket and make the ref make a decision.”
Armstrong and C.J. Ward are big men at 6-5 and 6-4 and Rosser expect both to be premier players.
Deaton said that Rosser “is going to do a really great job. He is a great guy, a great coach. I think if he stays there, they will do good things.”
Impressed with Kelby Jackson, Deaton said, “He was quick. He caused us some problems. We said that we are going to stay in front of him and were not going to let him get in the paint again.”
Jackson finished with four points. Armstrong was the only double-digit scorer with 10 points. Kolby Westbrook scored four, Turner five, while Gary Gragg, Ward, and Washington scored two each.
“A bunch” of inside layups by Ray Price in the second half and Golday’s shooting pleased Deaton along with Luke Wiseman, whom he described as a “very good ball player.”
The father of Luke and Sam Wiseman, Lang Wiseman, played basketball at Tennessee in the early 1990’s.
This is the first season that Deaton has coached two sets of brothers, Luke and Sam Wiseman and Ray and Jake Price.
“It’s fun. In practices they give each other a hard time. They steadily pick at teach other, especially the older ones. They tell the young ones, ‘You carry the balls out. You carry the dirty stuff,’” said Deaton.
For Arlington, which plays a motion offense, Jake Price and Miller scored three each, while Thomas and Evans added two each.
Against Bolton last Friday, Arlington improved its record to 11-10 (3-1 in district) with a 57-53 victory.
Golday again scored 21 points while Luke Wiseman scored 19 to lead the Tigers. Brewer scored two, Gentry eight. Ray Price five, Sam Wiseman two.
Entering the season, Halford said, “We expected it to be a good group.”
After the Kingsbury game, the spoils went to the victor. Luke Wiseman had a box filled with a honey-baked ham sandwich, chips, cookies and Gatorade. The boxes were donated by a parent. It doesn’t happen every game.
Following the sweet win, he said the treat was worth it.
Written by Bill Sorrell, special to the Express.