Vincent standards remain the same as Seth Ford steps in to lead Yellow Jackets

Published 10:01 am Thursday, October 26, 2023

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor 

VINCENT – For the first time in 15 years, the Vincent Yellow Jackets will enter a basketball season with a new coach leading the way after Seth Ford took over for John Hadder in the offseason.

The former Vincent coach, who took the Jackets to the sub-regional round of the playoffs every year and won nearly 300 wins, retired from education and is now leading the Spain Park girls basketball team.

For Ford, he is excited about the opportunity to now build off of that success and lead the program to sustained success.

“I’m excited to be here. Excited to get to lead this program,” he said. “We haven’t had a lot of time on the court together. We had three weeks when I got hired in the summer and a lot of our guys play football, so we didn’t have much time together so we have a lot of learning to do with each other on the court, but they have developed good relationships off the court and in the weight room and I am excited to lead them.”

Overall, the team will have several new faces with the loss of several seniors from a successful senior class, but there are also key playmakers returning this season that Ford thinks will help the team compete for an area championship.

Phoenix Maxwell, Skyler McCrimmon and Deontaye Robertson are three of many who are expected to lead as returning starters.

“We have a lot of athletic ability and a really competitive group,” Ford said. “These guys are playing multiple sports and compete all year round. They don’t sit around, so they’re competitive by nature and will be ready to carry that to the basketball floor.”

Ford said he is excited about the team’s length this season, focusing on Maxwell and McCrimmon who play the three and two spots on the floor, respectively, while a total of 4-5 will be rotating in.

“I haven’t coached a team with this length and to have it in 2A, that can help with rebounding and getting high-percentage buckets,” Ford said. “It also helps defensively by shrinking the floor with arms up. You can’t teach or control size like that.”

Robertson will be the leader at the guard position, but the team is still trying to find the right depth and fits to finish out the starting lineup and a few of the rotating pieces.

Ford said the team’s closeness, however, puts them in good shape.

“I’ve been around them a ton in the classroom and weight room,” he said. “These guys are close. They’ve played together since they were young. In a community like Vincent, it’s a close-knit community anyways. The good thing about our school is they play everything, so they are like a band of brothers. Good and bad, sometimes have brotherly squabbles, but all jokes aside, it is overwhelmingly good. They’ll have each other’s’ backs because they’ve been together since they were young.”

As for the playing style, Ford said the team will focus on being aggressive defensively, while trying to push the ball offensively when not capitalizing on their length.

“We’ll be a team that’s very aggressive,” Ford said. “We want to trap, press and gamble a little bit to force turnovers. Try to get steals, get collections and get out in the open court to play up and down basketball.”

Ultimately, Vincent fell in the Sweet 16 a year ago by two points to the eventual state champions, and even with a few new faces this season, that is a motivating factor for this year’s team.

“We are working a little harder,” he said. “There were things we didn’t do well in that game and things they did well. Going back and watching that film after that game, you could see what we needed to do better on in preparing for next season. I’ve just been telling the guys who haven’t played or guys who have been with me since I was young, ‘do what you can do. Hype each other up and have each other’s back.’”

Ford said the goal is for the team to build for January and February and that the early portion of the season will be focused on them learning each other and the style of play under his leadership.

“If we continue to get a little better each and every day, there is no reason we can’t compete for an area championship,” he said. “The tools are there for them to be an area championship team if they continue to work and improve. By January and February, we want to be able to compete with anybody in 2A.”

Vincent will open the season with a road trip to T.C.C. on Nov. 16 before hosting Shelby County a day later on Nov. 17 for the Jackets’ home opener.