The Pisgah varsity boys basketball program had an uncharacteristically down year last season.
After winning 20 games and advancing to the Northeast Regional Tournament at Jacksonville State University during the 2017-18 campaign, the Eagles finished just 6-17 in 2018-19 and were eliminated in the first round of the Class 3A Area 15 Tournament.
The team had two choices following the season, Pisgah head coach Woody Beard said. Fortunately, he said, it chose the right one.
“(The players) could’ve hung their heads (about last season), but they’ve really come back hungry, playing like they have something to prove,” said Beard, who is entering his 23rd season as the head coach at his alma mater. “I’m really pleased with that. I was really pleased with how they played during the summer (games).”
Pisgah wrapped up its four-week summer competition period after playing in team camps/play dates at Gadsden State Community College, Jacksonville State, Auburn University and North Jackson High School. The Eagles also hosted a play date with North Jackson and South Pittsburg (Tennessee).
Nine of Pisgah’s 12 players this upcoming season will be seniors. The Eagles’ seniors are Trey Barrentine, Tyler Bell, Austin Brown, Austin Brunck, Kolton Chadwick, Nate Cornelison, Hayden Frazier, Austin Thornhill and Jared Wilks. The underclassmen are junior Zach Cornelison and sophomores Rhyan Barrett and Parker Law.
Beard said the team showed improvement in several areas in which it struggled last season. He was especially pleased with the Eagles’ improved ability to handle full-court pressure.
“Nate Cornelison and Zach Cornelison really gave us a boost (playing) point guard. They did a good job against the press,” Beard said. “I feel like were better able to play faster, which is how I like to play. I was glad to see us do better at things that gave us trouble last year. I think we had a really good summer. I felt like it made us better as a program. The guys played with enthusiasm, a lot of energy. They played with confidence. That was really good see.”