Coosa Basketball

Cliff Williams / The Outlook Central Coosa’s Dequalon Thomas drives against Fayetteville Feb. 9, 2021.

Central Coosa boys basketball’s backcourt will make many opponents take a step back this season.

Propelled by three stars at the guard position, the Cougars look to improve on a strong 9-2 campaign in 2020-21 with gang rebounding and improving defense to complement the team’s ball handlers.

“We’re gonna excel with our guard play. We have a lot of guards,” Coosa coach Richard Bell said. “We don’t have many big men this year, so our theme is going to be defense and being scrappy. We’ve got a thing I say to our boys every year, ‘We’ve got to play for the Blue.’ And what that means is that we’ve got to fight for Coosa.”

The three facilitators occupying positions one, two and three for Coosa’s starting lineup are senior Trae Butler, junior DeQualon Thomas and senior Jon Kelley.

Each brings different elements to Coosa’s team compound. Bell coached the trio in middle school and they made the high school team at the same time he was promoted to coach varsity.

Butler’s athleticism makes him dangerous on both ends of the floor.

“Trae Butler is our best defensive player,” Bell said. “He’s our fastest, quickest guy and he’s our vocal leader.”

Thomas is the focal point of Coosa’s offense, a shot creator who can get to the basket and shoots well.

“He’s the scorer. He’s our No. 1 option on offense,” Bell said. “He’s a really proficient 3-point shooter, that’s what he does.”

While all three guards can rotate from a one to a two to a three, Kelley is the team’s best facilitator, Bell said.

“Jon Kelley, he’s more of a traditional point guard. He sets us up in our sets, that’s what he does.”

While Bell is bullish on his guard play, one area of concern for Coosa is a lack of height at the forward position. The tallest player on the Cougars’ roster, Nehemiah Sanders, stands just 6-foot-3.

He’ll occupy one starting forward spot as part of a four-man frontcourt rotation that also features DeMarcus Sandlin, Majavius Culpepper and Connor Mitchell.

Getting the entire team involved in rebounding will be critical as a result.

“We’re so small, we have to focus on gang rebounding,” Bell said. “That’s the biggest thing.”

Coosa intends to take a positionless approach to the game, however, so both its forwards and guards will move inside and outside, generating ball movement.

The Cougars’ backcourt trio will be called upon to make decisions in under a second, Bell said.

Beyond that, though, Bell wants his squad to be known as a team that can accumulate stops.

“We’ve got to play defense really, really well and make sure our defense travels.”

Central Coosa opened its season with a 47-43 victory over Horseshoe Bend Monday. The Cougars continue their campaign at Childersburg Thursday.

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