Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

NOTEBOOK: William Johnson Leading Boys and Girls Basketball Teams at TA

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

NOTEBOOK: William Johnson Leading Boys and Girls Basketball Teams at TA

Article excerpt

William Johnson is pulling double duty as a Tuscaloosa Academy head coach, but he doesn't mind a bit. He's done it before.

Johnson is in his second season coaching the Tuscaloosa Academy boys basketball team and his first leading the girls basketball team. Both squads are 8-1.

"It's a challenge that I wanted," said Johnson, who coached boys and girls basketball teams at Fort Dale Academy and at Pike Liberal Arts. "I didn't get any offseason practice with girls, so we kind of had to jump in in September. Once practice started, we really tried to take the philosophy to get good at what we do and not try to re- invent the wheel.

"The boys had a good summer, which has been a great thing for us because we had one day of practice and played two games. We had to use what we learned this summer to kind of start our season because we didn't have a preseason with the boys."

Most of the players on the boys team were on the football team, which went 13-0 and won the AISA Class AAA championship on Nov. 16. Three days later, they started basketball season with a win over Tuscaloosa Christian.

Johnson coached the boys basketball team to the AISA quarterfinals last season. Joe Childers directed the Lady Knights to a berth in the quarterfinals. Johnson said Childers left to take a job at Hillcrest.

"The underlying, base philosophy is the same," said Johnson, who also coached junior high football. "We want to play good defense. We want to take good shots. We don't want to force shots or take bad shots, and that's something we really tried to work on with both teams."

Krissy Pruitt is back for her senior season, and Johnson gave her the role of point guard.

"It's actually a new position for her," Johnson said. "I wanted to put a very experienced athlete there. It's a transition that's difficult at times, but I think that it's in the best interest of the team and it's worked out so far."

Senior Taylor Demonbruen starts as the No. 2 guard. Senior Chassiti Kimbrell is a starting forward. The other starters are freshman guard Addison Harrison and sophomore forward Hallie Harrison. Key players off the bench include Kaci Cochran, Carlie Cochran and McKenzie Smelley.

"Addison Harrison has really come along," Johnson said. "She worked extremely hard this offseason, and her hard work is starting to pay off.

"I am very pleased. I told the girls, 'If you do the little things, you can be successful.' They are actually doing a lot of the little things. They're rebounding well. We're making a lot of our layups. We're hitting shots when we're open, and we're playing really well as a team."

Pride Snow, a member of the football team, scored 20 points to lead the basketball team to a 48-49 win over Tuscaloosa Christian on Nov. 19. Johnson said he handed out uniforms and conducted a Sunday practice before the Monday game.

"We played four games with two practices," Johnson said. "It's difficult to transition really in 48 hours and go 90 miles an hour into basketball. You basically feel you haven't even had time to enjoy your state championship in football, and now all of a sudden you're being asked to play basketball games."

Snow scored 19 points Monday as the Knights downed Tuscaloosa Christian 66-63 in overtime.

"He is an extremely tough match because he shoots the ball so well," Johnson said. "He can handle the ball. He back you down in the post."

Snow is a junior forward. …

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