In 39 years of coaching basketball, Kenny Almond has faced just about everything a basketball season can throw at him. This year’s turning out to be no different.
Almond’s Zachary boys are 10-7 going into the district games on the schedule. Scotlandville, the District 4-5A preseason favorite, is first up for the Broncos, who lost five of their last six going into the Scotlandville contest.
Most basketball coaches are like chemists, trying to find the right formula for a winning combination, and that’s been Almond’s challenge so far this season. The Broncos missed the playoffs last season after going 9-19, and Almond’s goal is to get his team into the playoffs.
“I guess it’s a matter of getting on the same page with the players,” said Almond, who is in his first year as Zachary’s coach. “They’ve been doing a great job adjusting to me and what we’re trying to run. When football ended, we got a couple of guys added to the varsity, so we had to get restarted again and put them in the mix. It’s created some confusion, so we’re trying to find our footing.”
One of those football players added to the mix is sophomore Shyron White, who has been a consistent scorer in double figures since joining the team. Senior Matt Williams, a transfer from the Dunham School, is also a consistent double-digits scorer.
Almond said seniors Sam Bienemy and Mike Morris also have contributed on the scoreboard and with leadership.
“We’ve had other guys step up and contribute, but we need to stay focused a little better,” Almond said. “We’ve been in almost every game we’ve played except two of them. We’re trying to improve from last year’s schedule, but we’re at kinda that same point on the hill. We either get over the hump or we slide back down.”
Almond said the challenges for his team are fairly typical. They’ve struggled to score consistently, had trouble taking care of the basketball and they need to learn how to put away opponents.
“We’ve got to learn how to stay focused throughout the game and stay together as a team,” Almond said. “That means play as best we can and learn how to finish games. We’ve got to shoot the ball better than we’ve been shooting it. We get shots we want, but don’t knock them down. ”
Beside Scotlandville, which finished as state runner-up last season, Almond said Denham Springs and Broadmoor are the teams to beat in District 4-5A.
“Scotlandville is the favorite. They’ve been very good with a lot of tradition and pride carrying them,” Almond said. “Denham Springs has probably the best team they’ve had in years, and Broadmoor has beaten us twice so they’re not a surprise to anyone, they’re the real deal. Those three teams can win every time they step out on the floor.”
As for his team and this season, it’s still a work in progress. He enjoys practice as much as games because that’s the time when he learns about his squad through experimenting.
“It’s good to see guys come together and have success as a unit — that team thing. That’s when it’s the most satisfying, when you see them do it right,” Almond said.
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