Zachary High Coach Jonathan McClinton has been teaching his players that overcoming adversity is a character builder, whether it’s part of a basketball season or part of life.
His basketball team has experienced plenty of adversity the past four seasons, including several coaching changes. The most recent occurred a week before the season began when Kenny Almond decided to retire unexpectedly. McClinton, who has been an assistant coach with the Broncos for four seasons, was quickly appointed head coach.
“The one thing I want to do is build consistency with the program,” said McClinton. “The seniors on this team have heard three farewell speeches from coaches. This team understands adversity and our motto is ‘Expect to Overcome’ because of it. They will face adversity throughout the season, and they know what it takes to overcome it.”
The Broncos will play their first home game on Monday against Baker High, and McClinton encourages the community to come out and support his young team. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. and he’d like to see the stands filled with enthusiastic fans.
“I want to build excitement around Zachary basketball,” said McClinton. “There’s success all around Zachary, and we want to start a buzz about basketball. We want to start the year right and give the fans a great product on the court. We want to represent the school’s tradition.”
Without much time to make changes, McClinton plans to build on what was already in place, but with a few of his own touches.
For example, he said his team will stress defending the ball more, meaning more presses and traps and full-court defense. He also said fans will see a more up-tempo style of play on offense.
“They’ll get up and down the floor,” said McClinton. “We’ll use nine kids in the rotation or maybe 10 kids. There won’t be many times we’ll play a half-court game.”
With the Broncos enjoying success in the football playoffs, it has delayed four players from joining his team, including two starters. Now that football is over, Demoine Bowie and Shyron White will join the squad and are expected to contribute immediately.
Bowie will play a biggest offensive role on the court this season, and White is a potent scorer.
The squad also features two seniors, Marjon McClinton and Dreylon Robert, who will be expected to step up into leadership roles. Point guard Calvin Adams will be the leader on the floor and will be expected to score some points off penetration and from the outside.
Other players McClinton mentions as being key for the team’s success are 6-3 Corey Kennedy and 6-5 D.J. Collins. Both players give the Broncos some size inside and rebounding ability.
Terrance Lucas is athletic and will provide plenty of defensive support, E.J. Jyles can score consistently, and Austin Veal shoots well and will also be counted on for some scoring punch.
Zachary lost to Ouachita in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs last year, and the previous year, failed to make the 32-team field.
“We have the pieces to be successful this year,” McClinton said.
McClinton played linebacker for Nicholls State’s football team, where he earned a bachelor’s degree and later received a master’s degree in public administration from Southern. He says he understands transition because he went through a coaching change while with the Colonels.
Prior to Zachary, McClinton coached one year at Central and said he learned from Wes Watts and Sid Edwards about running effective programs. He’s also excited about coaching at Zachary because the support among his fellow coaches and the administrators is very team-oriented.
“We all work to be successful, and that helps a lot,” said McClinton. “There is a lot of people, and if I have a problem, I can call them and get their advice. We work together.”