Football playoffs are in full swing, but basketball season has also begun for many state teams. Most teams start their season in the middle of November, but due to Swainsboro High traditionally being in the football season playoffs, their season begins later.
A few years ago, Swainsboro High girls’ basketball team had two 9th graders who looked as good as any two freshmen in the state. Both started and played exceptionally well. The team finished with an 11-10 record and made it to the second round of the state playoffs. During that season, freshman Jayden Wynn averaged 8 points and three steals. Freshman Tanyia Williams averaged 10 points and 12 rebounds. Williams and Wynn are now seniors. As fate would have it, 2020-2021 was the last season both played an entire season together. Taniya missed most of the 2021-2022 season. The team finished that year with a record of 20- 3 and made it to the second round of the state tournament. In 2022-2023, Jayden missed the entire season. The team finished 18-7 and made it to the third round of the playoffs. Tanyia averaged 16 points with 12 rebounds and was selected to the All-State team establishing herself as one of the best players in the state. Tanyia is an outstanding all-around player. She can score, rebound, and play defense. Although she was the leading scorer last year, her selflessness and leadership are evident when playing defense and rebounding. Many players want to reach the 1,000-point scoring club, but Tanyia says she wants to pass 1,000 rebounds during her career. Jayden Wynn is an outstanding guard who can penetrate and finish strong or score from the outside. Her poise and ball handling makes other teams’ pressure less effective. Jayden is coming off an ACL injury last season but averaged 10.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, and three steals in 2021. Look for these seniors to have a significant impact on the season. Seniors Tonia Ricks, 8 points, five rebounds, and Hannah Howard, 7 points, return for Swainsboro, along with seniors Dezaria Jordan and Kiara Sherrod. Sarah Kelly, who averaged 13.4 points per game last year, has graduated. Coach Alexandria Walden begins her 10th season as Swainsboro’s head coach. Her team has been to the playoffs each of those years. Coach Walden’s record is 162 wins and 72 losses.
Coach Brice Hobbs begins his 9th season as the head varsity coach. Hobbs’s team finished as the state runner-up during his first season and won the championship during his fourth year. Last year, his team made it to the final four round of the state tournament. Coach Hobbs is one of the senior coaches at SHS and is a proven winner. He doesn’t like to take credit for his success. He gives that credit to the kids and former coaches Leroy Jordan and Bobby Andrews for mentoring and building the tradition. Hobbs is an intense coach on the court yet humble off. He depends on God for guidance. Coach Hobbs doesn’t mind bringing in former players to assist or listening to the input of those who grew up Tigers or others in the community. Additionally, Coach Hobbs won a state championship in track in 2007 and was runner-up in 2008.
Lost to graduation from last year’s team are Ty Adams, Jakari Nobles, and Dorien Foots. All were impactful players over the past few years for the Tigers. Returning players who saw significant time last year are DeMello Jones, LJ Morgan, Carmello Lewis, and Kavoyea Williams. Jones averaged 12 points and seven rebounds on the court and of course is a stand-out on the gridiron. He is a football commit to the University of Georgia, which may impact his status for the basketball season. Lewis was the team’s second leading scorer, averaging double figures. The junior is a quick left-handed guard who can penetrate or score from the outside. Kavoyea Williams is a multi-dimensional, strong player who can rebound, play inside, or score from outside. Williams, also a junior, played exceptionally well for the Tigers during the playoffs. Sophomore LJ Morgan is a well-rounded player who can score, rebound, and pass. Morgan is poised and has good knowledge of the game. After a strong summer on the AAU circuit, Morgan has established himself as one of the top 10th graders in the state. Look for Lewis, Williams, and Morgan to take over more significant roles this year as sophomores and juniors. The Tiger’s team defense as shown the ability to turn up the pressure at any moment. I anticipate this year will be no different. Jabios Smith, Christian Tarver, Shannon Benjamin, and Tabyron Carswell are 9th graders who could have an impact. Benjamin is an excellent point guard who can distribute or score. Smith and Tarver are 6’3, with good strength and athleticism. All three are playing impactful roles on the football team as freshmen. Tabyron Carswell will be an interesting player to watch. He is 6’5, long, and has good athleticism. His height is something the Tigers have been missing for the past few years. He can be a valuable rebounder and defensive player.