Basketball season is right around the corner at Minden High School, where the Crimson Tide and Lady Tiders enter the season on the opposite end of the spectrum in terms of expectations. Last season, the Minden Lady Tiders advanced to the second round of playoffs in Class 4A, falling on the road to Ellender 74-64. Head coach Jacob Brown is working with a full-deck, as all five starters and several key reserves return as juniors and seniors. The Lady Tiders were in action Monday night, scrimmaging the Arcadia Lady Hornets in Minden. No score was kept, however Minden’s 1-2 punch of Bre Rodgers and Derrica Gilbert had standout performances, knocking down a bevy of 3-pointers. Rodgers and Gilbert will serve as primary weapons for Minden, but are only the tip of the iceberg.
Seniors Sha Whiting and Sha’Terra “Strawberry” Batton are above average ball handlers and defenders, while Tayler Banks and Whitney Aubrey, a pair of defensive stalwarts, round out the backcourt. Junior Destiny Powell gives Brown another physical presence in the paint defensively and is capable of stepping outside to knock down the open trey.
With more returning firepower than any of their 1-4A counterparts, the Lady Tiders enter the season as district frontrunners. “I thought we did a good job overall,” Brown said of his team’s scrimmage. “I thought we rebounded well. Derrica (Gilbert) opened up the second half with a 3 and then Bre had consecutive 3’s. I liked how all our ladies competed.” As for being the favorites in 1-4A, Brown is pumping the brakes. “I know some teams brought back some key players,” Brown said. “It should be interesting, never a cake walk.” Rennie Bailey is preparing for his second season in charge of the Crimson Tide with a much different roster make-up than Brown and the Lady Tiders.
Minden is loaded with inexperienced sophomores after graduating most of their scoring from last season. Bailey has been upbeat about the work his players put in during the offseason and past few weeks of practice, saying the group is buying in to what he’s selling. “We have young kids,” Bailey said. “I like my team, I’m excited about my team and I think we have a good group. It’s going to be a process, but I enjoy coming to practice and coaching these kids.
Once we start playing games, we’re going to get better. The future is bright and I’m looking forward to it.” With so many of last season’s scoring options gone, Bailey said the Tide may have to take the air out of the basketball to win games this season. “We want to be a very, very good defensive team. That will always be the make-up of a Rennie Bailey-coached team,” the veteran head coach said. “Sometimes your best defense can be your offense though, and with so much inexperienced talent, we need to turn the offense over for 3-4-5 minutes. We have no shot clock, so that may not make for very enthusiastic fans, but if we walk out with a ‘W’ everyone will be happy.” Sophomore Trey Oliver is one of the only players with game experience back for Bailey, and the youngster will be asked to handle the bulk of the point guard duties. “The last 3-5 days, he’s been a very vocal leader on the court,” Bailey said. “That shows me growth, but now I just need him to see the floor a bit better and take care of the ball.” Lakeside transfer Chance Mitchell, who will not be eligible until after December, will provide the backcourt with play-making ability, while Kiernan Combs, a newcomer to the team, has Bailey’s attention. “He’s gotten a lot better,” Bailey said. “He’s about 6-foot-1, a bigger-bodied kid. He was one of the guys who stood out for us all of last week.” A pair of Glenbrook transfers, Dallas Edwards and Riley Dauzat, give the Tide a pair of taller bodies to rotate in the post. “Dallas has gotten better, but we need to get him in shape,” Bailey said. “I’m encouraged by Dallas. He comes to practice and works hard everyday. He’s a guy who makes me look forward to coming to practice. I yell at him a lot, but I just want to challenge him. With Riley, he has some things about him. He shoots the ball well from three, but we need to strengthen him up.” The Tide will be in action Tuesday at The Palace to scrimmage the Airline Vikings. The regular season tips off for both teams on Nov. 13 at home, as the Lady Tiders host the Ruston Lady Bearcats, while the Tide take on Gibsland-Coleman.