FLORENCE, S.C. — The Wilson boys started their season 2-0 under first-year coach Carlos Powell.
Then, the Tigers stopped — as did the rest of Region 6-4A because of the pandemic.
On Monday, for the first time since December, Wilson resumes practice and has five days to prepare for a brief resumption of this regular season, beginning Feb. 1.
A region tournament (Feb. 12-13, 15) follows. That alone adds plenty of excitement, considering normal seasons usually rely on just the region standings to determine seeds for state, which begins Feb. 20 this year.
While two of the region’s other teams, Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach, resumed games this week, Wilson — along with South Florence and West Florence, and Darlington County schools Hartsville and Darlington — will also work their way into form for one week, starting Monday.
Powell will simply be happy to see his players in Wilson’s own gym again.
“I’ll be like a kid, I’m so excited. They deserve the chance to play,” said Powell, a former Wilson and University of South Carolina star. “I believe we’ve got to approach next week locked in. And I think the guys WILL be locked in. After all, after you get something taken away that you love, and then you get it back, you’ve only got one choice. And that’s to go hard.
“But there’s more to basketball than just dribbling and shooting,” he added. “I love teaching them different life lessons; that’s what I've missed mostly about it.”
Powell, an assistant on Ridge View’s Class 4A state championship team last season, said his Tigers have been just as excited since receiving the news this season will indeed resume.
Since December, Powell’s players have done what they could on outdoor courts.
“We really couldn’t do much. But a lot of the guys went to local parks and did dribbling drills and ball-handling drills. A lot of the players also have basketball goals at their homes,” Powell said. “Other than that, we just try to give them drills and exercises to help them get conditioned.”
That helps the whole team, according to Powell.
“When the guys put in that extra work, that makes my job a little easier because they are putting in the extra work without me telling them what to do,” Powell said.
And, Powell thinks that self-discipline will carry over into Monday’s practice.
“When I took this job, I knew what I was getting into,” Powell said. “I’ve seen these kids in AAU and stuff like that, so I knew they were down for the work. Coaches love players who go hard on their own. You can’t coach effort. And these guys give a lot of effort, they want to be better, and that makes my job a lot easier because that lets me focus on different things.”
Powell, however, acknowledges that there are challenges, considering the short preparation time.
“You can’t get your full team chemistry and all that type of stuff in this short time,” Powell said. “It takes way longer than a week for that.”
With that in mind, conditioning and defense will be a priority during next week’s practices.
“If we can get our defense going, I don’t really need to worry about the offense. If we can play for four quarters playing the defense I want, our defense will turn into offense. That’s what I’m about. That’s what we will be about,” Powell said.
"After all, after you get something taken away that you love, and then you get it back, you’ve only got one choice. And that’s to go hard."
--Carlos Powell, Wilson boys' basketball coach