Pelham hopes young core and fast pace lead to another regional berth

Published 8:58 pm Thursday, October 26, 2023

By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

The Pelham Panthers are coming off of an appearance in regionals, and now, they’ll look to repeat that feat with a young, but exciting core of players.

Pelham head coach Greg Dickinson has been impressed at how his team has bonded together despite the lack of experience as a group.

“I feel very good about this team even though we’ll be young and a little inexperienced on the varsity level,” Dickinson said. “We have a great group of guys. They get along well. They play great together. They feed off of each other.”

Dickinson’s goal for Pelham is much of the same as last year. He wants to carry on what worked from last year and improve as a fast-paced team on both ends of the floor, applying intense pressure on defense and pushing a quick transition offense that can score shortly into each possession.

“We’ll still be a fast-paced, up-tempo team,” Dickinson said. “Defense, we’ll like to press and pressure the ball a lot harder than we did last year, but still the same style. Offensively, we’ll try to push the ball up fast, but we’ll keep it the same as we did last year.”

As for the players who will make that style happen, the Panthers have three key pieces back from last year. Joe Wimberly will start at point guard again and lead the offense from up top. On the wings, Dynarian Long will use his 6-foot-5 frame to make plays at his position while Eli Lewis will bring experience to the four-spot.

Beyond them, Egypt Daniel looks to have an impact as a 6-foot-5 shooting guard and could be a breakout talent. Jayden Robinson is brand new to the team as a sophomore, and Dickinson will take advantage of his 6-foot-7 build in the post to add another dimension to the offense and contribute as a rebounder.

Pelham has a young, deep bench this season, and Dickinson believes that the Panthers’ depth will mix well with their improved shot-taking and defensive abilities as well as their presence on the board, all of which are the team’s strong suits in his eyes.

“I think our strengths will be rebounding, defense and shooting the ball well, and I think we are a lot deeper this year than we were last year,” Dickinson said.

That depth allows Dickinson to shake up the lineup and make sure he not only fields the best five at any given time, but also that he gives his star players adequate rest during a grueling season.

“We’ll definitely mix it up,” Dickinson said. “The better players will still get their same opportunities, but this time, we can give them more of a break, more so than we did last year because we have so many young guys coming up that can play just as well.”

Those breaks will be key with a tough schedule, especially when it comes to area play. Pelham will once again face Helena and Briarwood in its three-team area, and Dickinson believes the Panthers stack up well size-wise against both teams and will be competitive against those two sides.

The Pelham Panthers hope that all of those pieces and improvements will come together and take this team back to regionals, and potentially even beyond.