The Newton County Academy boys’ basketball finished strong last year as they made the Class AA state tournament and lost the first-round game to Greenville St. Joseph 34-32 to end their season.
The Generals return two starters off last year’s squad. Gone is Ethan McDill, who lead the team in scoring with 24 points a game and was an MAIS all-star.
But coming back will be senior Kemp Alderman, who is an Ole Miss commitment in baseball. Alderman averaged 8 points with 14 rebounds last year. Also coming back will be point guard Zander Meeks.
“Right now, we’ve only got two players in the gym so just about everybody is in football,” NCA coach Tanner Smith said. “I feel good about what we have coming back. We are only going to have three seniors. We just have to figure out our identity and find out what is going to work best for us.”
Smith said Riley Boswell and Austin Upton came off the bench last year and will be expected to play considerable minutes this season. Smith said he also expects seniors Jordan Mason and Wesley Williams to play major minutes while Ty Hollingsworth and Lee Hollingsworth will also come off the bench and play.
The Generals will compete in division play with Kemper, Hebron and Columbus Christian.
“We played Kemper last year and did beat them,” Smith said. “I don’t think it will be nearly as tough as last year’s district. I know Columbus always has a good team. We don’t play any district games until after Christmas. We should have a better feel of where we are at by the time we get there.”
The Lady Generals will go into the season with an entirely new look as all five starters graduated and head coach Michael Alexander stepped down from the position.
Taking over the program is Winona Baysinger, who is in her first year of coaching.
But the Lady Generals have already gotten off to a good start with wins over Sharkey-Issaquena and Canton Academy.
“It’s been going good,” Baysinger said. “We won both games we played in the Canton Preseason Tournament. I thought they played really well. They fought hard. We had to come back against Canton and beat them in the fourth quarter.”
Starting for the Lady Generals will be Sara Beth Bounds and Bella Collins in the post. Asten Russell, Gracie Humphreys and Belle Hollingsworth round out the starting five. Coming off the bench is Jordan Russell along with freshmen Lilly Hollingsworth and Cayden Alexander.
“I’ve been watching them play for the last couple of years,” Baysinger said. “There seems to be a good connection with these kids. They want to win and it’s an atmosphere of wanting to win. I think we will have a chance to win the district and have a good chance to be in the state tournament.”