It's nice to have three starters back from a region championship basketball team when you're a first-year head coach. What makes that even better is when one of those three is an all-state performer.
That's the position Larry Crosby finds himself in as the coach of the Crestwood High School girls team. Now it's not like Crosby is a newcomer. He's been the girls junior varsity head coach at CHS for 12 years, moving up to the varsity after Tony Wilson decided to take over the boys program.
"We're pretty much following the same concept," said Crosby, whose team is off to a 2-1 start heading into Friday's home game against Lee Central. "I always ran what Tony wanted to run and there isn't a need for a big change. I might have tweaked some things here or there, but it's pretty much the same."
Of course, Crosby has a pretty good foundation to start with in Whitfield as the Lady Knights go after their eighth straight region title. Whitfield was selected to the South Carolina Basketball Coaches Association's 4A all-state team last year. She averaged 14 points, eight rebounds and four steals per game. The SCBCA selected Whitfield as one of the top five seniors in 4A in its preseason honors.
"Jah'Che is just an excellent all-around basketball player," said Crosby, whose team is ranked fifth in the SCBCA 4A preseason poll. "There are so many things that she is able to do for us. We start her at the 1 spot (point guard) on offense and have her play either the 3 (small forward) or 4 (power forward) on defense. She gives us a lot of flexibility."
Forwards Destinee Jamison and Sedajah Rembert are the other two returning starters. Jamison has been ini double figures in each game for Crestwood to date.
The other two starters are center Monijah Lewis and guard Keonna McElveen.
Crestwood opened the season with victories over Lower Richland and Lee Central before falling to Sumter on Saturday. The Lady Knights were without the services of Whitfield, who had to be out of town. "We had some communication problems (in the loss to Sumter)," said Crosby, who was having problems speaking last week as he had flu symptons. "The girls weren't understanding what i was trying to tell them."
Crosby said he is still working on developing the team's dept.
Crosby said one difference between him and Wilson in coaching style is he isn't as quick to let go of the reins on his players.
"Tony gave them a little more freedom than I do," Crosby said. "With me, they have to earn their freedom. They have to realize they have to do things on the floor to earn that freedom."