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Cutting down the nets after the area title last season.
Photo by Kyle Thornton

Basketball begins this week

By Michael Butler

The 2020-21 basketball season tips off this week for Tallassee's varsity teams. Well, not exactly.

Yes, the games will begin, but there will be no opening tip-off due to a new rule by the AHSAA regarding COVID-19.

"It's strange," THS boys coach Keiven Mixson said. "I'm disappointed. That's part of the fun of basketball is the tip-off. The guest team will bring the ball in first. If we go to overtime, (it) will start with a jump ball."

Mixson penciled in a late addition to the 2020-21 slate vs. Hoover. Tallassee travels to the Birmingham-area power to open the season on Tuesday night at 6.

Jalyn Daniels awaits to inbound the ball during Tallassee's regional game vs. Sylacauga at Garrett Coliseum in Montgomery in February.

"I scheduled them because it's going to be a great environment. They're probably going to be the best team we play all year. We want to get ready for the end of the season. We want to be put through the fire."

This will be Mixson's fourth year as head coach at Tallassee. Last season was the winningest season ever. The Tigers went 27-5.

"We graduated six. We've got a lot of young guys. We're having to do a lot of teaching."

Tavarious "Truck" Griffin and Tyrek Turner were grads who helped lead Tallassee to its first regional in school history.

"Losing Truck and Tyrek, that's probably 25-30 points and close to 20 rebounds," Mixson stated. "You win in football in the trenches. Same thing in basketball. You win down low. You've got to be physical. You've got to be tough. We've got some holes to fill. We've got some talent."


Jamicah Humphery returns for his senior season as a three-year starter.

"We trying to get to state in Birmingham," said Humphery. "We're very young. We going to have to run and gun and push the ball."

Mixson feels the guard play can be as good as it gets.

"We've got three exceptional guards. I haven't seen everybody in the state, but Jamicah, Jaylyn (Daniels) and Tae (Collins) are three of the best guards. I'm sure there are teams that have two really good guards. We've got three."

The Tigers are down a player at least in the early going. Demontae "Duke" Washington was injured during football season.

"There's a possibility that he could play maybe late in the year, but probably not. He's one of the best athletes probably in the state."

Other than Hoover, another spotlight game will come against Calhoun, which sports the state's top-rated player in J.D. Davison, an Alabama commitment.

"We talked about it the whole summer. Everybody wants to play him. It's big for Tallassee. I hope we can fill the gym up, but I think it's going to be half capacity. I called AUM and Alabama State. Would I love to play it at Tallassee? Yes. But, if we're going to have half capacity, I'd rather go where we can put maybe a couple thousand in the stands."

Tallassee is 64-25 during Mixson's tenure for a winning clip of 72 percent.

"We expect to win. We're trying to win a state championship here. We pride ourselves on playing hard, tough, physical basketball. We use the term dogs. That's what we are. I'm a dog. We've got to coach like dogs. We've got to play like dogs."

Area Tourney Champs last season
Photo by Kyle Thornton

The Tallassee girls team has a new coach in Kuanda Alleyne. Alleyne is a native of Tuskegee. She played high school ball for Booker T. Washington and collegiately at Tuskegee University. She also has coaching experience at Concordia College in Selma.

In addition, Alleyne stood out while coaching youth hoops for the Tallassee Recreation League last season.

Alleyne on the air with WTLS during "Morning Madness" at Stumberg Gym last Friday

"That was fulfilling. That was an amazing experience."

The THS girls get started with a rare morning game at LAMP vs. Catholic in Montgomery on Wednesday at 9. The alarm clocks will go off early.

"Playing at 9, I'd like to get there at 7:30," Alleyne said. "Ajaida Griffin and (Jyteriuna) Jy McKinnon are my two key players right now. We're working hard. Once we get past this pandemic and I get more time with them, everything will go smoothly.

"We want to change the culture. We want a winning attitude. We want girls to be enthused about basketball just as much as they are about softball in Tallassee. With the boys success, I think basketball is starting to come up."

*Wake-Up Call "Morning Madness" on Tallassee Times TV

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