HERALD 2010-11 PREP BASKETBALL PREVIEW: Albany boys hope bumpy road about to end

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

ALBANY -- Archie Chatmon has his own ideas about growing pains. He doesn't mind the growing. It's the pain he can do without.

That's why Chatmon is hoping his Albany boys basketball team, while still the youngest team in town and a work in progress, grows up this season in the win column.

"Hopefully, we amass some wins as we grow,'' Chatmon said. "We don't want all the growth to be getting bumps on the head. We can grow from winning, too.''

That's a different approach, but Chatmon knows it's a long road, especially in Region 1-AA, where Thomasville has arguably the best team in its class in Georgia. Still, Albany has a good shot at making the state playoffs this season. The Indians fell one game short when they lost to Fitzgerald in the Region 1-AA Tournament last year in a game Chatmon felt his kids could have won.

That game says as much about where Albany was and where Chatmon would like to see his team go this season as any.

"If you look at the Fitzgerald game, you had two teams that were about the same," Chatmon said. "But when there was a time to make a big play, their seniors made it. Their seniors made the plays they had to make to win that game and our young players didn't make those plays.

The difference in that game was their experience.

"It's easy to say it was our youth. We're still young this year, but I hope this year that we have players who can make that play.''

The Indians look good so far, despite being 0-2 to start the year. They lost a close one to Dougherty last week, and an even closer contest to Westover on Tuesday, 60-59 -- and they had a chance to win it late.

They only have one senior on this year's team, but they're loaded with experience because the top two players from last year's squad were sophomores and both play guard.

It's no secret that Tim Pierce, a 6-foot junior guard, is expected to be the leader of this bunch. Chatmon spent a lot of time last season explaining to Pierce that he expected him to take charge. In a loss to Dougherty in which Trojans star Arabian Williams took over, Chatmon told Pierce "That's what you need to do for us.''

Pierce was Albany's leading scorer last year, averaging roughly 12 points a game, but if Chatmon's team grows this season he wants it to begin -- and end -- with Pierce growing into a bigger role.

Larry Sanders, a 6-0 junior guard, also returns and Sanders, who averaged nine points a game last year, has already shown flashes of success. In the second game of the season, Sanders dropped in 26 points in a 55-52 loss to Dougherty.