The past two basketball campaigns for coach Terry Hoese at South Greene have been especially pleasing.
The Rebels chalked up 24 wins last year, the second most wins in a season that Hoese’s teams have claimed. Two years ago while they finished at 16-14 they won the district title with a 10-2 mark.
So will there be a rebuilding project underway this year out south of the river?
With five seniors back this year, and four of them starters at some point last year, it’s not like the cupboard has been completely cleaned out for the Rebels.
“We played with a lot of seniors last year and they clicked from the start,” Hoese said. “They just liked to play. Levi (Myers) went 100 miles per hour all the time and the rest of the team seemed to feed off him. Plus we had big Sully (Fox) inside, who was a game changer because he could defend the post and rebound.”
Fox was 6-6, and last year’s squad was huge compared to the size of this year’s team. That means a different style of play will be in the offering as the 2020-21 season begins.
“We’ll have to go back to the way we used to play,” Hoese grinned, “just go out there and shoot the ball. We can shoot. If the team is having a good night, we can put up some points. If they’re not, well …”
Hoese has warned his players to enjoy every single day, every single practice, “because we don’t know what tomorrow will be like.”
He was obviously referring to the COVID outbreak and what it could mean for basketball programs over the coming months. Hoese can only hope his basketball team will be as fortunate as the football team, which was one of the few teams in East Tennessee to be able to play a full schedule this year.
“Not having a summer with the team, not being able to get the kids together as a team … it’s going to take a lot of time to get ready,” he said. “Plus most of our guys play football so they haven’t even been to the gym yet.”
While there are several returnees on the basketball roster, only two of them – Ty Bailey and Isaac Hoese – aren’t members of the highly successful football team which won a school record 12 games heading into the state quarterfinals.
Seniors Aydan Hawk, Jay Higgiins, Preston Bailey and Ty Bailey all played often last year. The other senior is Isaac Hoese, the coach’s son.
With five seniors, five juniors and four sophomores on the roster, Hoese seems to have the program in gear to not have to go through a mammoth rebuilding campaign every other year or so, and that is a big thing at a smaller school.
Several of the returnees were certainly major contributors to last year’s 24-10 season.
Aydan Hawk, a 5-11 wing, had to sit out half of last year with a broken arm. But he will be counted on as a leader.
“Aydan is decent size and he shoots the ball really well,” Hoese said. “Plus he’s a smart player. He knows how to play the game. In fact, this entire group of boys are a bunch of smart kids who know how to play.”
Preston Bailey is 5-10 who also shoots well from the perimeter and handles the ball well.
“Preston sees the floor as well as anybody we’ve got,” the coach said. “Plus he plays hard and loves to win.”
One of Ty Bailey’s, a 6-0 senior, biggest assets is he never seems to get tired.
“We practice for two hours and he plays the whole time and never lets up,” Hoese said. “He’s the type of kid that you love to coach. He will go in there and post up for us. He’ll be under sized most of the time, but he does a good job in there.”
Jay Higgins, a 5-11 senior, got in a lot of time last year and is another Rebel who goes hard from start to finish. The coach describes him as “a streaky shooter who can really go off sometimes when he gets on a roll.”
Isaac Hoese is only 5-11, but plays bigger than that because of his long arms, his father said. He’s one of the team’s best shooters and defends well “up top because of his length.”
The point guard duties will be in the very capable hands of Clint Lamb, a 5-11 senior who started in that slot last year.
“He has gotten taller and filled out quite a bit since last year,” Hoese said. “He’ll give you everything he’s got all the time. He’s left-handed, which is a special little twist for a point guard. He sees the floor and is a great passer. Clint has played a lot of basketball in a lot of different places with his AAU team.”
The Rebels will probably struggle early until the football players get the gym sneakers on.
“We might go back to the old days of 5-in and 5-out,” Hoese laughed. “But we’ll have to play a lot of people.”
Caleb Robinson is a 6-0 junior who didn’t play last year, but he’s strong and thick and will have to be counted on for some muscle. The same can be said for Luke Myers, who is also a junior at 5-11, and will be counted on to help in the paint “because he’s strong and can hold his own in there.”
The Rebels do have some size in a pair of sophomores, 6-5 Hayden Birdwell and 6-4 Andrew Thornburg, and until football is over they will have to play, even though both are inexperienced and are going through the learning process.
Chandler Fillers, a 6-1 junior, will play on both the wing and in the post. He has shooting range and can handle the ball.
Conner Marshall, a 5-9 sophomore; Hunter Toth, a 5-9 sophomore; and Hayden Hartman, a 5-11 junior, are all looking for playing time.
“Really, this team is just a bunch of athletes,” Hoese summed up. “They are not great basketball players, just athletes, and I like that a lot.”
The coach figures Greeneville High might very well be one of the better teams, not only in the district, but in the state. Grainger was young last year but will be much improved this time around.
“Cumberland Gap and Claiborne always give people fits,” he said. “And watch West Greene. They had a freshmen group last year that was very strong so I expect them to be much improved.”
SOUTH GREENE REBELS
No. Name Grade
1 Clint Lamb Jr.
2 Isaac Hoese Sr.
3 Conner Marshall So.
11 Jay Higgins Sr.
14 Aydan Hawk Sr.
15 Hunter Toth So.
23 Preston Bailey Sr.
25 Chandler Fillers Jr.
31 Ty Bailey Sr.
33 Caleb Robinson Jr.
35 Luke Myers Jr.
41 Hayden Hartman Jr.
43 Hayden Birdwell So.
45 Andrew Thornburg So.
REBELS 2020-21 SCHEDULE
(Home games in CAPS)
Nov. 24-28 – at Hardee’s Classic
Dec. 1 – at David Crockett
Dec. 4 – CUMBERLAND GAP
Dec. 5 – at North Greene
Dec. 8 – at Greeneville
Dec. 11 – GRAINGER
Dec. 18 – DAVID CROCKETT
Dec. 19-22 – at Cherokee Tournament
Jan. 4 – HAMPTON
Jan. 5 – at West Greene
Jan. 7 – at Lakeway Christian
Jan. 12 – at Claiborne
Jan. 14 – LAKEWAY CHRISTIAN
Jan. 15 – CHUCKEY-DOAK
Jan. 18 – at Hampton
Jan. 22 – at Cumberland Gap
Jan. 26 – GREENEVILLE
Jan. 29 – at Grainger
Jan. 30 – NORTH GREENE
Feb. 2 – WEST GREENE
Feb. 9 – CLAIBORNE
Feb. 12 – at Chuckey-Doak