The Spencer Greenwave entered the 2017-2018 season with a new coach and an aim to change the direction of the program. They left with one of the best years of Spencer basketball in recent memory.
Eric Allen came into his first full season with Spencer and established a new air of confidence within the Greenwave team. Allen’s arrival coincided with the emergence of an extremely athletic Spencer squad, one which pieced together 12 straight wins early in the season and followed with an eight-game winning streak at the close of the year.
Thanks to Spencer’s emergence as one of the top teams in Columbus, Allen has been selected as the 2017-2018 All-Bi-City Small School Boys Basketball Coach of the Year.
“We’ve got a lot of guys who have bought into the system,” Allen said. “They’re not selfish. They play hard, they play together and they come to practice every day. It’s just a level of focus right now.”
Although their first game under Allen’s guidance was a loss, it immediately showed the direction Spencer basketball was trending. The Greenwave travelled to Columbus basketball and found themselves in one of the highest-scoring games the city saw all season.
Spencer fell to Columbus 102-95, but as it quickly became apparent, the high-scoring would stick around while the losing would not.
The Greenwave took off in Region 5-2A in large part to the team’s athleticism throughout the roster. Players such as Riqueito Leonard, JaQuez Holt, Jason Williams kept the up-tempo play seen in that opening game present throughout the season. Spencer averaged 73 points per game in the past season, in large part due to the non-stop style.
“Our job is to run,” Allen said after Spencer beat Heard County on Jan. 30. “We teach our program to run and play aggressively on defense.”
Spencer put the finishing touches on its run through the region tournament on Feb. 9 against Jordan then proceeded to make a push through the Class 2A state tournament. After squeezing by Hapeville Charter 65-63 in the opening round, the Greenwave kept it rolling against Rockmart, hitting 72 points in a 33-point blowout.
The Greenwave’s run ended in the quarterfinals against Thomasville, the eventual state champion.
Going into the next season, Allen’s Greenwave will have to replace seven seniors including Leonard, an All-Bi-City First Teamer. As for this year’s team, Allen said the key to Spencer’s season was his players buying what he was selling.
“They believed in the system,” Allen said. “I just love them, man. They played hard.”