New look for Swain basketball at A.C. Reynolds Jamboree
After losing the core of last year’s team to graduation, Swain County basketball coach Scotty McMahan is utilizing the summertime to bring his young team up to speed. The Maroon Devils took the court Friday at A.C. Reynolds for the Rockets’ annual summer jamboree, playing three games over the course of the day.
Swain’s first game of the day was easily its toughest, as the Maroon Devils faced an Asheville High team that returns its two top scorers from a team that won the Western Mountain Athletic Conference last season. After nearly eight minutes of play, Swain held a 12-9 lead over the Cougars before the hometown team began to slowly open up a lead over the remainder of the game to defeat the Maroon Devils, 59-42.
The remainder of the day would be a different story, as Swain went on to defeat Polk County and then Avery to finish the event with a record of 2-1. McMahan was pleased with the fortitude of his inexperienced, but improving, young core.
“Judaiah Littlejohn really stepped up for us towards the end of the season last year,” said McMahan. “Nick Millsaps played a lot for us last year after Zeke Bradley got hurt. Noel Wolf will hopefully help us fill some of the scoring need, as well.”
McMahan noted that the quick turnaround of three games in a single day against quality competition is beneficial for any team, but particularly an inexperienced group like his.
“That’s why we come to Asheville, is to face teams that are not necessarily better than our conference teams, but have more athletes to deal with,” said McMahan. “In our conference, you may face a team that only has four or five of those type of kids, whereas when you come here you might face a team that has eight or nine athletes like that. It’s good conditioning for us and good exposure. I think it’s helped us over the years.”
McMahan was working double duty for the day. The junior varsity Maroon Devils were without a coach and had three games of their own in the auxiliary gym. McMahan spent the day shuffling back and forth between the two gyms coaching both teams. He served as head coach for a total of six games. The junior varsity finished with a record of 1-2 on the day, including a single-point loss to North Buncombe.
“I always enjoy coaching, it doesn’t matter how many games we have,” said McMahan. “It’s fun. We’ve got great kids on both teams. We don’t really view it as a JV and a varsity, it’s just one big program. That makes it a lot easier. The two teams mix and match pretty well.”