Monday, February 9, 2009


Solid sendoff
With the red-hot, reinvigorated Sherwood boys basketball team barreling into the GISA playoffs next week as a top seed in Region 3-AA, Friday’s “Senior Night” saw the Eagles’ elder statesmen go out with a bang in a 71-52 romp against Fullington.

ALBANY — A Sherwood Christian fan approached Eagles’ head coach Matt Ruta Friday night and congratulated him on a great regular season.
“We haven’t had that in long time,” the Eagles’ supporter said.
Sherwood’s boys basketball team flipped last year’s dismal 4-19 season on its head and turned it into an 18-4 regular season, capped on Senior Night with a 71-52 win against Fullington Academy.
“It’s been a turnaround,” Ruta said. “Especially for the kids last year who haven’t won. They’re loving it and it’s been great for their confidence.”
The Eagles will enter the GISA Region 3-AA playoffs next Tuesday as the No. 1 or 2 seed.
A coin flip Monday will decide the top seed, currently a tie between Sherwood and Tiftarea.
Ruta’s coaching style in his first year at the helm has been a welcome addition to the Eagles’ players and a key to the successful turnaround. Of course, area transfers like Cameron Williams and Dequan Green haven’t hurt either.
“The couple transfers helped for sure,” Ruta began, “but the kids who returned have bought in and helped turn things around.”
Williams, who came over from Dougherty County High and broke the Eagles’ single-season rebounding record by averaging more than 14 boards a game, scored 25 points Friday in his last game on Sherwood’s court to cap off a memorable final year.
“I’ll miss everybody here,” Williams said. “They’ve been great to me. We just want to try to make a little noise in the state playoffs this year.”
Green, a freshman, led all scorers with 25 points Friday and will be a force for years to come at Sherwood. Williams is the only starting senior, although big man Taylor Ours got the start Friday in his final home game.
“There’s a lot of emotion,” Ours said afterward. “Last year, we didn’t win many games, but this year we’ve been pretty successful. (Coach Ruta) has totally changed the atmosphere here. Now we’re excited and we’re winning.”
The Lady Eagles’ home finale wasn’t as fitting, ending in a 50-26 loss to Fullington Academy, although hope still remains with the region playoffs beginning next week. Sherwood’s senior girls have gone through three different coaches in the last three years, but first-year head coach Rebecca Fyock has seen steady improvement throughout the year.
“All our girls are real young basketball-wise,” she said. “We’ve come a long way. They’ve had to learn different coaching styles (in consecutive years) and I think they’ve been lost in the shuffle the last couple years.”
Senior Amber Lane scored six points in Friday’s loss, while Princess Williams and Emilee Cook led the Lady Eagles with seven points apiece. Sherwood led, 9-7, after one quarter of play but Fullington outscored the Lady Eagles, 34-13, in the second half to run away with the win.
“As a team, we’re young, but we still work together,” Lane said. “There’s not a team in our region we can’t beat if we play like I know we can.”
Sherwood’s two seniors, Lane and Cassie Nobles, will need one more win in the region playoffs next week to move on to the state tournament. Regardless, they believe the foundation has been set for future success.
“We’ve improved a whole lot,” Nobles said. “Hopefully it will lead to a good year next year.”

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