Head coach: Stan Gatlin (6th season)
Last season: 12-14, third in District 13-AAA, lost to Bolton in region quarterfinals
Starters lost: 2
Starters returning: 3
Players to watch: F Anthony Smith, G Kyron Middlebrook, G T.J. Rivers, G DeMaryo Gatlin, F Ladarious Taylor
Brighton was definitely in rebuilding mode last season.
Stars like Taelyr Gatlin, Zach Lewis and Aaron Alston graduated the previous season, leaving a roster full of inexperienced players to go to battle.
Nevertheless, the Cardinals had their share of success. Brighton played eventual district champ Munford to three close games (all losses) and finished just two games below .500.
Head coach Stan Gatlin believes he has the talent this season to take the program a step further.
“A lot of the players showed me some things over the summer,” Gatlin said. “I’m excited about what they did.”
The team’s leading scorer from last season, 6-2 senior wing Anthony Smith, figures to lead the way. He averaged 13 points and 13 rebounds per game last season and 17 and 11 in district games.
“Obviously, he’s a rebounding machine,” Gatlin said. “He’s just got a nose for the ball. His big thing is rebounding, but his shot is improving.”
Gatlin said he expects the lefty to be more of a threat from the perimeter this year when he’s not pulling down boards.
Junior guards DeMaryo Gatlin and Kyron Middlebrook both return after solid seasons. The same goes for sophomore forward C.J. Dowell and sophomore guard T.J. Rivers, the team’s second leading returning scorer. Junior Kejuan Dyson is another guard with experience.
Those guards figure to more than make up for the losses of starters Jordan Dowell, who graduate, and Marteze Logan, who transferred to Covington.
Brighton got an injection of talent when 6-1 junior forward Ladarious Taylor transferred to Brighton from Covington and sophomore guard Ken Henning moved in from Fayette-Ware.
Coach Gatlin believes his team has a chance to compete for a district title this season.
“We just have to learn to compete better than last year and get over that mental hump,” he said. “I think we should be at least 15 points better than last year.”