By Rubin E. Grant
Gavin King couldn’t have imagined a better start for his young Homewood girls basketball team in his first season as the Patriots’ head coach.
Homewood opened the season with five consecutive wins and was 7-1 going into the Thanksgiving break.
“We have a lot of new starters and rotational players,” King said. “We have started 15 different girls, and I don’t think we have rolled out the same starting five in any game.”
The Patriots’ roster is loaded with freshmen and sophomores as well as 5-foot-10 eighth grader Ellis McCool.
The freshmen include 6-1 Ella Serotsky, Laine Litton, Charlotte Deerman, Annie McBride, Lydia Pope, Hollis Tangye and Madeline Alford.
The sophomores are forward Kayla Warren, point guard Susie Whitsett, and 6-3 center Mira McCool.
The Patriots have only two seniors, Katelyn Pope and Caidyn Cannon, and two juniors, Ava Pepper and Maddie Massie.
“We’ve got girls who played in middle school or came off the bench last year who are new starters or getting minutes off the bench for the first time at the varsity level,” King said. “We’re trying to win now and give a lot of girls an opportunity to play. We play at a fast pace, so it doesn’t matter who starts. Sometimes we sub five in and five out.
“One thing I love about this team is the girls are so unselfish. They cheer for each other, they share the ball and they share minutes.”
King credits that chemistry along with depth and an aggressive, up-tempo style of play for the Patriots’ hot start.
“We’ve used our numbers to our advantage,” he said. “Our girls are so athletic and active, and most of them play multiple sports.
“We’re physical and we play extremely fast and the girls are in great shape, so I think against some of the teams we’ve played conditioning has come into the play.”
The Patriots are blowing out opponents, winning by an average of 26.3 points, with wins against John Carroll Catholic (58-32), Pinson Valley (57-25), Bessemer City (58-45), Woodlawn (53-28), Calera (62-29), Talladega (61-30) and Central Clay County (73-49). Their only loss was to Northridge (58-47).
“All of our wins have come against 5A and 6A schools,” King said. “We get out and run in transition and we’re pressing. I think we have worn some of the other teams down.
“The second half of our schedule is going to get tougher, so we’re trying to get as many girls ready for it as we can.”
Homewood will compete in Class 6A, Area 9 along with Mountain Brook, Briarwood and Chelsea.
Before coming to Homewood, King was the head coach at Childersburg, where he had four highly successful seasons. He led the team to four regional appearances, four area championships, and two Final Four trips while compiling a 102-29 record.
King replaced Kevin Tubbs as the Patriots’ head coach. Tubbs left at the end of last season to become athletic director of Gulf Shores City Schools.
King jumped at the chance to come to Homewood.
“I live in Trussville and I was commuting two hours round trip to Childersburg,” King said. “Homewood is closer to home. It is a great high school and has a great basketball program with a great feeder program from the recreational leagues and middle school. I think it’s a great fit for me.”