Troy Athens senior guard Jacob Brantley drives down the floor during a contest earlier this season. Brantley is one of eight seniors on the current roster.

Troy Athens senior guard Jacob Brantley drives down the floor during a contest earlier this season. Brantley is one of eight seniors on the current roster.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Seasoned Athens boys hoops squad set for success

By: Timothy Pontzer | Troy Times | Published February 28, 2018

 Athens senior forward Clark Joslin puts up a shot. At press time, the Red Hawks were 13-3 overall.

Athens senior forward Clark Joslin puts up a shot. At press time, the Red Hawks were 13-3 overall.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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TROY — Two years ago, the Troy Athens boys basketball team only managed one victory. 

While the season served as a disappointment for many, coach Dave Scott believes it was a building block for the present.

Now in his eighth year at the helm of the program, Scott proudly points to members on that roster who persevered and are now enjoying success as seniors.

“We had a bunch of sophomores take over on varsity, and we were moved up to the (Oakland Activities Association) Red (Division),” Scott explained after a Feb. 16 practice. “We went up to the best league in the state with a JV team, and that didn’t treat us well. We have eight seniors now, and a lot of those guys were on varsity back then. It’s all paying off now.”

Scott cited a core group of his upperclassmen for the change in fortune this season. At press time, the Red Hawks were 14-4 overall and 9-3 in the OAA White.

He praised senior guards Jacob Brantley, Brendt Stephens and Taylor McCaskill, and senior forwards Clark Joslin and Kyle Sweeney as the catalysts.

“I can’t say enough about these guys. We knew we would take some lumps, but we were hoping to build to something like this,” Scott said. “We sold them on this as (sophomores). This was going to be a hard challenge, but the idea was to build toward something. Last year we had some injuries that hampered us, but we still saw growth as players and young men. Now it’s paying dividends.”

Scott said each player knows their role and does so with maximum effort.

“Our guard play is pretty good with Jacob, Taylor and Brendt; they make smart decisions and each can score when needed,” Scott said. “Clark and Kyle round out the front court, and they give us some length and athleticism. Sweeney holds down the paint for us. We have a nice little mix there.”

In a Feb. 15 contest against Birmingham Seaholm, McCaskill scored his 1,000th career point. He is only the second player in program history to do so. Together, McCaskill and Joslin are two four-year varsity players.

“We’ve both been on the team the longest, and we enjoy that role,” Joslin explained. “It would’ve been easy to give up after our sophomore year, but we really came together after that. That’s helped so much because we all have each other’s back. During our freshman year, we had eight seniors and we saw them bond and how they treated each other like brothers. We were focused on recreating that with this senior class. That brotherhood is really important.”

Scott singled out Joslin as a great example for his teammates, especially with his team-first approach.

“Clark is definitely one of our leaders because of the way he conducts himself,” Scott said. “He sacrifices a lot of his personal stats for the team. He does a lot of the dirty work. He leads us in blocks, always guards the best player and is willing to do whatever he can. He’s the glue that holds us together. When you have a lot of good guards, you need those guys that are willing to step outside of themselves and do those little things.”

Joslin said the only statistic he cares about is the final score.

“I’ve never really been a big stat guy,” Joslin said. “I just try to do what I can to put us in a winning position. If that cuts down on my points or anything else, so be it.”

Both Scott and Joslin hope their long journey can lead from a single win to a win in districts.

“We’ve been focused on the playoffs for a while,” Joslin said. “The talent level is definitely there for us to make a run. We have some strong competitors in front of us, but it’s been that way since our sophomore year in the Red. We’re ready for the challenge.”

Athens is seeking its first district title since 2013. The Red Hawks face Birmingham Seaholm in the first round of the Class A district March 5 at Troy High.

“The kids have been really focused,” Scott said. “We hope that we can compete for a league title and then take care of business in districts. This team definitely has the will to win.”

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