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Crestwood girls open season on roll in Wilson's 2nd tenure as head coach

By J. SCOTT SEWELL
jscott@theitem.com
Posted 12/10/19

Crestwood High School decided to make a change with its varsity basketball head coaches during the offseason and it has certainly paid dividends for the girls team.

After a difficult 2-year stint as Crestwood's boys head coach, Tony Wilson …

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Crestwood girls open season on roll in Wilson's 2nd tenure as head coach

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Crestwood High School decided to make a change with its varsity basketball head coaches during the offseason and it has certainly paid dividends for the girls team.

After a difficult 2-year stint as Crestwood's boys head coach, Tony Wilson returned to the sideline for the Lady Knights, which he had coached for 11 years before taking the boys job.. So far, so very good.

The Lady Knights are off to an impressive 3-0 start with wins over three teams ranked in the Top 10 of the South Carolina Basketball Coaches Association preseason polls. Crestwood opened the season with a 53-35 victory over Lee Central, ranked No. 4 in 2A, before pulling out a 46-37 victory over 4A No. 10 Darlington. On Friday, the Lady Knights closed out their opening week with a 50-49 victory over Sumter School District rival Sumter, which is ranked third among 5A schools.

Wilson, who took over a team that went 11-13 and failed to win the region title for the first time in eight seasons. posted a 224-101 record in his previous stint at the helm. He was 8-38 as the boys head coach.

Crestwood lost four seniors from last year's team, including leading scorer Sedajah Rembert. So far this season, the Lady Knights have relied on returning senior guard Ashanti Washington to lead the way, along with a trio of transfers from Sumter in senior guard Cece Wells, junior guard Ta'janique Johnson, and senior guard Dynasia Jackson.

The result has been the formation of a deep, dynamic backcourt of scorers that are capable of hitting outside shots as well as creating shots inside.

"The coach they had last year (Larry Crosby) ran a different system than we're running this year," said Wilson. "We're going to be a more pressing team, and we're going to get out and run more. It's a combination of a different kind of coaching between last year and this year. It's a work in progress, but we're trying to get there."

The early results have been nothing but positive with the three transfers appearing to seamlessly transition into the new program.

"I got the job late, and we were still trying to find the right pieces to put it together," said Wilson. "We'll be OK if we can get all of the pieces together. Ashanti has the ability to be our leading scorer, and A'Yonna Young is a really good post player that worked hard over the summer. There's not going to be one girl that does all of the scoring; it's going to be a combined team effort."

The timing of the moves coupled with the all of the turnover from last year's team to the new transfers meant it was a little short-handed over the summer.

"We didn't have a lot of our players over the summer, but all of the girls are here now so we're trying to get that chemistry down," said Wilson. "I think the effort in practice and scrimmages has been really good. The girls have been coming to practice and working hard. The excitement is really good. We're just trying to get to where we need to be. We have a chance to be a really good team, but right now we're just trying to put the pieces together and gel."

Luckily, the team has come together quickly. It needed to because the schedule doesn't get much easier. Next up is Wilson, ranked No. 4 in 4A , and it still has rematches against Darlington, Lee Central and Sumter. The Lady Knights will also participate in the highly competitive CresCom Bank Holiday Invitational in Myrtle Beach just before Christmas.

"By the time we get to region play we should be good and ready," said Wilson. "We play in one of the top regions (IV-4A) in the state. We're just preparing ourselves for region play by playing all of those tough teams. I like to do that, to see where we're at. We're looking forward to that good competition starting off the season."