When David Clemmons was named head boys basketball coach at Metcalfe County High School last year, he knew there was a lot of work ahead of him. Over the last two years, the Hornets had several players quit the team, while winning only six games. It was a tough time for everyone.
But Clemmons is a former Metcalfe County sports standout and is determined to find a way to bring the Hornets back to basketball prominence.
“We came in and wanted to change everything about this basketball program. Going 1-29 like we did last year is not a respectable basketball season,” said Clemmons. “We had a running clock on us almost every night. No one wants that.
“We want to try and teach the kids to compete. I am a competitor, but teaching these kids to compete has been the toughest task so far. I don’t know if they have become numb to losing, but these kids don’t know how to compete.
“Each kid is different. You have to try and figure out what drives them to want to win. I have tried to pull out all the stops, too. I think we have to change mentally, physically and as a team if we want to compete.”
The Hornets, who opened their season last week with a loss at Warren East, are in what may be one of the toughest districts in the state. Besides just trying to get better, Metcalfe County’s postseason hopes rest in how well the Hornets compete against the likes of Russell County, Clinton County and Cumberland County.
“Russell County and Clinton County, it should be a dog fight between those two for the district title,” Clemmons relayed. “Cumberland County and us, realistically, are probably battling for the No. 3 spot.
“If our kids learn to compete every night, I believe the district games become easier. We played a lot of freshmen and sophomores last year. They have the experience of competing at a varsity level and that’s important. Now we have some juniors with a lot of experience and we have some sophomores that played a lot as freshmen. We’re not young anymore. We’ve used the excuse that we’re young for way too long. We have to get after it.”
Clemmons said Lance Zurmehly and Colby White will probably lead the charge for the Hornets in the backcourt this season.
However, he is also quick to point out Spencer Noe and Kyle Bryant are playing well enough that it will be difficult to keep them out of the lineup.
“Nothing is guaranteed for anyone,” Clemmons pointed out.
“For whomever starts back there, I want my point guard to push the ball and make good decisions. He needs to take charge. Spencer and Kyle, probably our top scorers, will be on the wings.”
Several players are vying for time along the frontline. Jalen Clemmons and Ty McMurtrey probably have the upper hand at the moment.
But Logan Bell, Austin Pennington and Brandon Glass could get the call to start when the Hornets host Cumberland County on Tuesday.
“I have talked with all the kids about what they can do to contribute to this team,” Clemmons explained. “Some aren’t blessed offensively, but they can dive on the floor for a loose ball or they can get us three or four offensive rebounds, maybe four of five steals a game. All of that is very valuable to our team.
“I feel good about the depth on this team and I’ve probably got 12 guys that I think will see a lot of minutes this season.”
Clemmons said he’s not the savior of the Metcalfe County basketball program and that it will take time for him to get the program where he wants it to be. However, Clemmons said everything he, his staff and players do will be directed at making that turnaround happen as soon as possible.
“This is about developing our program,” Clemmons said.
“What we have to instill in these kids is the desire to be competitive. I told them if you go out and compete, the games become fun. And winning will take care of itself.
“What I want for this team is for them to run out of this locker room for a game and have this gym packed. That’s not going to happen if we’re losing every game.
“Now if we’re competing, playing hard, people in Metcalfe County are going to come out and cheer for them. And that’s one feeling I want these kids to experience.”