The 2018-19 version of the Tipton-Rosemark Academy boys’ basketball team made history, advancing to the state tournament and state title game for just the second time in program history.
A big reason for the success was addition of three new players: Alexander Anderson, Andrew Anderson and Tysen Banks. All three played huge roles. Two of those players – Andrew Anderson and Banks – graduated.
For some programs that would be a huge blow. Not so much for the Rebels.
Second-year head coach Cedric Anderson has four new players this year – Cameron Donegan, Isaiah Hatley, Myles McClinton and Jalen Hurt – who have each made an impact, particularly of late.
The team’s record (11-8) does not jump off the page, but Cedric Anderson believes the team is taking shape with the most important games of the season coming over the next few weeks.
“I think we’re getting close, for sure,” the coach said. “The part that was difficult for them was they tried adjust to their new environment and our style. We played such a difficult schedule early in the year you couldn’t see their progress.”
Anderson crafted a very challenging non-league schedule against large public schools like Arlington, Whitehaven, Hamilton, Dyersburg and Overton.
“It doesn’t look like we’re as good as we really are,” the coach said.
Donegan, a transfer from Ridgeway High School in Memphis, has made the most noise among the newcomers. He’s averaging 15 points per game, which is second on the team.
“It’s been tough, but these guys have helped me through it,” Donegan said when asked about changing schools and teams. “He coaches really tough. Where I came from it wasn’t as tough. I think I’ve adjusted pretty well.”
Junior Alexander Anderson, a South Alabama commitment who is the coach’s son and Andrew’s brother, was the new guy last year.
“Of course it’s been different because me, Andrew and Tysen had been playing together since we were little, so it’s kind of weird to share that shine with newcomers,” He said. “It’s been really cool, though, because we all just jelled really quick.”
“I’ve accepted the role of getting them use to coach’s style of coaching,” said junior Patrick Green, who was a key player last year. “They’ve really bought into this program. They fit in perfectly.”
It hasn’t been all about the new guys. Alexander leads the team in scoring (22.5 points per game) and seniors Ethan Petrowski and Jay Heigel, holdovers from last season, are making major contributions this year.
The Rebels and their coach don’t shy away from talking about their goal, which is clearly a second straight trip to Nashville and the DII-A state tournament.
“The expectation is to win the championship for every team that participates,” Cedric Anderson said. “There’s a lot of pressure from former teammates, from the fan base, and pressure from within because they want to achieve the same level of success and perhaps take it to the next step.”
“We are finally coming together as one and this just happened recently,” Alexander Anderson said. “If we keep it up I feel like we’re unbeatable, to be honest.”
“The bar has definitely been set from going to state last year,” said Heigel. “I think this year, even though we lost a lot of pieces, we gained a lot of new ones. I think the roster is filled out and I think things are coming along. I think we’ll get back to where we were last year.”