BASKETBALL PREVIEWS ’21-22: Getting to Know Y’all- Cardinal transition form whirlwind summer to bonding autumn

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Stan Gatlin


By Thomas Sellers Jr.

For the first time in nearly a decade the Brighton Cardinals’ roster will feature only one Gatlin. 

Back in 2014 Head Coach Stan Gatlin was joined by his son Taelyr and later DeMaryo came on board. 

After district champions, a Sub-State appearance and both boys reaching the collegiate basketball level, the 2021-22 Cardinals have a familiar coach but developing roster. 

“We had a lot of people who weren’t there this summer,” Gatlin acknowledged. “Then we had a lot of youth. The upperclassmen were not participating for various reasons. They put us at a disadvantage starting the season not to know who does what well. 

“The first two or three weeks is going to be trying to figure that out to see what is our best game plan,” he continued. “What defense we’re going to run? What offense we’re going to run? This is day three of practice and I am trying to figure that out now.”

Once the football players are in the mix after the playoffs, there will be another transition phase for the Brighton ballers. 

Another adjustment for the Cardinals besides their own roster will be league play. The new district for Brighton has area rivals Ripley, Haywood, Covington and Munford. 

“I love it,” Gatlin said. “There’s some great coaches in our district. It’s going to make for great games. It’s going to make us better. I want to always make sure my team makes our overall district better for the Region. So we can push forward as a district and then push forward in the State Tournament.”

The Cardinals will navigate the new league with senior captain Andrew Thompson. 

Other key Brighotn players will be Darrien Lewis,  Emmanuel Thurman, CJ Bonner and Ken Hennings. 

Gatlin said he is excited about the progression of Jaylen Terry. Nick Moore is a point guard who plays athletically. 

Terry and Moore were a tandem in middle school and have a natural cohesion on the court. 

“It’s going to be interesting to see how things mix together,” Gatlin acknowledged. “We’ve got a lot of growing to do. We got a kid that came in from the middle school Adrian Maclin. He’s a very athletic kid. He has some learning to do with our system. Skill-setwise, the kid has a really good skill-set. The kid could be a dominant force. I see huge things for that kid. As a freshman he can dunk the ball with two-hands. You don’t see that every often.”

Other young Cardinals preparing to take flight are Preston Waits and Tyler Alston. 

“He’s Aaron’s little brother,” Gatlin noted. “He’s made tremendous progress and has to learn to calm down his game and be poised. His skill-set with jumper and turnaround jumper is sound (long and athletic type).” 

With time running out on the preseason, Gatlin has a plan to build cohesion and familiarity with his current flock. 

“Film — we’ve been playing some of these teams anyway from our new league,” he said. “But to now have them in our district it’s different. We played Ripley last year and beat them. We played Haywood last year and beat them. We’ve struggled with Covington the past few years. 

“And we’ve gone back and forth with Munford the last few years,’ Gatlin concluded. “We had close games with them last year. It’s going to be fun. But those guys have to learn (1) not to have the lower intensity of the other team. They have to learn to first match or play past their intensity.  If you don’t do that you’re going to be beat up real fast and it’s going to be ugly.” 

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