Panthers Pushing for Strong Start to Season

photo contributed to the observer

By Harrison Tarr
For The Observer

In Smiths Station, Alabama, there is a true feeling of fall in the air. The leaves have actually begun to detach themselves from their respective trees, temperatures actually necessitate warm clothing and — most of all — football season has reached its conclusion. For the members of Panther nation, this is both saddening and exciting.

The silver and black will not compete on the gridiron for the remainder of 2021, giving way to the building hype surrounding head coach Stephen Davis’ boys basketball program.

Following the team’s 2-0 start, Davis had the opportunity to share his optimism for his program’s 202-22 season and beyond.

“Sky is the limit for us,” Davis said. “If we do what we’re supposed to do, I think we could be one of the best teams in seven-A.”

A self-described up-tempo squad, the leader of the Panthers looks forward to seeing the hustle his team brings to the court.

“We’re a high-tempo, press team,” Davis said. “We try to play fast mostly, probably the entire game.”

To further bolster his team’s brand of basketball, Davis expects his team to give maximum effort on a nightly basis.

“I’m always going to expect them to play hard,” Davis said. “I’m always going to expect them to leave their hearts out on the court and if they do that, I’m not really concerned about wins and losses.”

According to Davis, as long as his guys give their all, the results are inevitable.

“If they play to the best of their potential the wins will come with it,” Davis said. “As a coach, all that I can ask is that they play as hard as they can play and be the best version of themselves that they can be.”

The Panthers embark on their new season following a 19-4 campaign in the 2020-21 season and will look to returning members of last year’s squad to build upon their roles from last year.

“This year, we return a good bit of that team,” Davis said. “Now we lost two key players, one being the point guard and one being a forward. But — like I said — we got a lot of pieces back from that team.”

In addition to his returner’s play on the court, Davis expects to rely heavily upon veteran leadership in the development of his new members.

“This year we’re just focusing on getting that leadership from those guys that have been here,” Davis said. “And those guys are meeting expectations of what we’ve done and improving our expectations from last year.”

Luckily for the Panther’s head coach, he has seven guys with whom he is confident in allowing to play their own game and lead by example.

“Dre Weathers, TreQuan Turner, Zackoby Williams, Amari Peady, Trequan Turner and Devin Peterman,” Davis said. “I’ve got seven kids that I have no problem playing and putting the trust in the game in them.”

Although the product he puts on the court is of utmost importance, Davis is also excited — and optimistic — about the establishment of a true basketball culture in Smiths Station. He has been pleased by the community support in the Panthers’ first two contests thus far.

“Smiths Station isn’t really known for basketball,” Davis said. “Even though we’re trying to build a basketball culture around here. We’ve played two home games and we’ve had very large crowds. We’ve had people come out and support us; I think they really appreciate our brand of basketball.”

After starting the season a perfect 2-0 with wins over Opelika and Loachapoka, the black and silver seek to improve upon what has proven to be a solid foundation before reaching region play. Smiths Station opens region competition on Friday, Jan. 7 in a home contest with the Red Devils of Central high school. Tipoff between the two foes is set for 4 p.m. CST.


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