Glenwood eyeing a return to the top after 2 near misses
When Glenwood junior Trip Day joined the varsity basketball team as an eighth grader he told coach Dusty Perdue that he had a goal.
“He wanted to win five championships before he left,” Perdue said.
Five years. Five championships. One ring for each finger.
That quest started off just fine, with the Gators winning the AISA state title in 2013, but a three-point loss to Tuscaloosa Academy in the 2014 title game got things a little off track. Another close loss to Tuscaloosa Academy a year ago, this time in the semifinals, was a further setback considering the team would lose three starters to graduation and have to reload this year.
Flash forward to the end of another successful regular season in which Day and fellow returning starter James Beck have helped lead the new group to a 23-3 record. Day and Beck are the leading scorers, sophomore Nick Adams has filled the role vacated by Lawson Humphries exceedingly well, junior Brandon Moseley has become a key fixture on defense and sophomore Christian Clausell does a little bit of it all.
And the goals haven’t changed for Day.
“I promised him five, but I’ll settle for three if I can do it,” he said.
The message is clear: The Region 1-3A tournament is a means to an end, a way to put the team in good position for the state tournament. At the end of the day, though, this team is hungry for just one thing.
“I put it in their head as much as I can,” Perdue said. “The main thing is, (Day) has been through that. He’s been there when we didn’t play well. We want a chance to get back there and then see what happens.”
Beck, the only other starter on last year’s squad, said that Perdue’s insistence on helping the team remember the shortcomings a season ago when many coaches may encourage players to move on has kept the hunger alive for this team all year.
“You wake up, and you’re still mad that you don’t have a ring,” he said. “Being so close two years in a row, I finally want to get one.”
And while they can’t earn it this weekend in the region tournament, they could get a taste of what’s to come down the road. Once again, Tuscaloosa Academy, Lee-Scott and Bessemer look like three of the key roadblocks to winning a state championship. Perdue expects to see all three of them, along with his team, in the state semifinals.
“Our region is the basketball region,” he said. “I expect four teams from our region to be in the final four. I want to be that 1-seed to set ourselves up to be in the right bracket.”
Glenwood’s journey — the “second season,” as Perdue called it — begins at 1:30 p.m. Friday at Macon East in Cecil, Ala., against Bessemer.
“I like where we’re at,” Perdue said. “I like our chemistry, and our guys are hungry now.”
“I think we’ve played our best sometimes, but I don’t think we’re where we could be,” Day added. “We’re definitely improving, and we’ve got a shot.”