Rodgers Rahaim was introduced as Sylva Bay Academy’s head boys basketball coach mid-season. Transitions can be messy, not to mention difficult in situations similar to the one Sylva Bay Academy faced. A new coach often brings new expectations, new plays and a new way of doing things.
Understanding all of this, Rahaim kept things simple.
“When you’re a coach, you have things you want to implement,” said Rahaim. “But [with this situation] I didn’t want to come in a change everything. Now I’ve added one of two things, but I kept a lot of things as is.”
The simple approach worked. Sylva Bay, who before Rahaim’s arrival was 4-7, is currently 8-4 with Rahaim at the helm. The Saints are 1-1 in this week’s MAIS District 3 Boys Basketball Tournament, including Thursday night’s 61-20 loss to No. 1 seed Brookhaven Academy, who is 15-2 on the season now. Sylva Bay won the tournament’s opener on Tuesday night over Prentiss Christian, 78-33.
Hustle and defense have been Rahaim’s number one priority since taking over in January.
“The main thing I wanted our guys to do is to hustle and play good defense,” Rahaim said. “For the most part, they have.
“Like tonight, we have our nights when it comes to shooting. But that will come in time. The biggest thing is I just want our guys to hustle and always give their best effort.”
Junior guard Phillip Anderson led Sylva Bay in points against Brookhaven with six. Kade Hancock and River Thomas added five points apiece.
Sylva Bay will play Newton County Academy Saturday afternoon at 3:15 p.m. for a shot at third place in the MAIS District 3 Tournament. Sylva Bay beat Newton County Academy in the two teams last regular season meeting, 58-54.
Regardless of the outcome, Rahaim has a lot to build on for the future. Sylva Bay has only one senior on its roster.
“You want this to be a springboard into a better next year,” said Rahaim. “It’s going to take a lot of hard work. If you want to be good, you have to work hard at it. And that is what I expect, and I think they know that. You have to have discipline because to me discipline is important. If you have hard work to go along with that discipline, then that makes a big difference.”
Rahaim saw glimpses of just that Thursday night despite his team’s loss.
“I’m pleased with what I see [in that area],” Rahaim added. “Now we didn’t shoot the ball well, but you have nights like that. Brookhaven is a very good basketball team. They’re well-coached and a well-disciplined team. They’re not the No. 1 seed for nothing. If you want to compete with them, you have to be able to make plays and not turn the ball over. I stressed that to my guys coming into this tournament.”
Sylva Bay will travel to Shreveport, Louisiana next week for the MAIS AA South State Tournament.