Playing a position that is usually dominated by players much taller and larger, Douglas County duo of Ernest Randle and Jeremiah Smith are holding their own.
The two 6-foot-5 post players are helping the Tigers enjoy some early season success.
Tigers coach Hollis Bethea says the pair are playing much bigger than their size.
“They have made up for a lack of size with some long length because of their wing span,” Bethea said. “They play good position defense. They have gotten stronger in the offseason, which has definitely helped.”
Randle had a triple-double in the team’s season opening win over Tri-Cities on the road. He had a double-double in a win over rival Alexander.
On the season, Randle is averaging 6.5 points and 8.3 rebounds to help the team to a 2-2 overall record and 2-1 in the region. Smith is averaging 8.5 points and four rebounds per contest.
“We might not be the tallest, but we are getting the job done,” said Smith, a junior.
“I think the biggest thing is that we push each other in practice everyday,” said Randle, a senior. “We just have to go up and get every rebound. We have to stay real active on the boards.”
While Randle and Smith do most of the dirty work for the Tigers, they have county on seniors Ricky Clark, Ricky Lewis and Cam Copeland along with junior Malik Battle to do the scoring.
Douglas County is getting good balance scoring from the foursome with Battle leading the way with a 14-point per game average. Clark, who has signed with Lincoln Memorial University, is averaging 13 points while Lewis is at 12 a game.
In his season with the team, Copeland is contributing 10.8 points per contest.
“Ernest and Jeremiah are a big part of our success,” Bethea said. “We are also counting on the balance scoring to help us. I’m definitely pleased with the season but far from being satisfied. I know we can do better. In my eyes, we should be at least 3-1 overall.”
Both of the Tigers region wins - Tri-Cities and Alexander - have come on the road. Bethea said he is pleased at the way the team handled themselves in the overtime wins.
“We really kept our composure in some hostile environments,” Bethea said. “We are definitely improving as a team. What I’m most pleased is that we are shooting free throws a lot better as a team. We just have to cut down on our turnovers.”
The Tigers have finally gotten most of their players on the team. Several players who played football were missing because the team was involved in the second round of the playoffs.
Douglas County is still missing post player Mataio Soli, who will not be back until January. A starting defensive end on the football team, the junior sustained a leg injury in the first round playoff win over Dalton.
After playing in an all-star game in late December, Soli is expected to return.
Another inside player - Braelen Oliver - is not expected to play this season. Oliver, who has committed on signing with Minnesota in football, will just concentrate on that sport.
“I think when we get Soli back we will definitely be in good shape,” Bethea said. “I think we are right were we need to be at this point.”