E.A. Sports Today

Where he belongs

Weaver’s Marcus Herbert makes his varsity basketball head coaching debut Monday night in seven-point loss at Southside

Marcus Herbert (C) listens to the officials’ instructions prior to coaching his first game as Weaver’s varsity basketball coach Monday night.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

SOUTHSIDE – Marcus Herbert tried to approach it like a regular game, but, of course, it was so much more than any other game.

This was his game. The longtime loyal Weaver lieutenant was making his debut as his alma mater’s head varsity basketball coach Monday night with all the emotions that accompanies the first day of one’s dream job.

It didn’t go well on the scoreboard – the Bearcats lost at Southside 62-55 – but the 33-year-old rookie head coach was far from discouraged.

Unlike his first varsity start when he was thrown to the wolves against Jacksonville as an eighth-grader n Hamby’s second Weaver basketball season and matured into a coach on the floor, Herbert had been working towards this day for years.

He had done just about everything under Hamby’s watchful eye – played for him for five seasons, did his volunteer coaching under him, coached on every level in the program and for the last three years did the team’s scheduling and travel.

So it seemed only natural Herbert would be elevated when Hamby told school administrators last Monday he was stepping aside to spend more time with his family. Hamby told the team Tuesday and Herbert was promoted – formally on an interim basis – that day. The move was applauded from various circles.

“I guess actually being an official head coach it was a special moment,” Herbert said after giving an encouraging post-game speech to his players. “When my dad was here he always wanted to see me eventually one day be a head coach in something, and it was a blessing the opportunity I had today to be the man out there coaching our team.

“Nerves and jitters coming in? A little bit, but again I’ve been groomed for the situation.”

Hamby sat on the top row of the bleachers across from the Southside bench to watch his protégé’s debut. Another first-year Calhoun County basketball coach was also in the stands, Piedmont’s JoJo Odum. Hamby was there to provide moral support; Odum has Weaver in his area.

What they saw was a typical athletic Weaver team that played an up-tempo style and pressure defense. The Bearcats couldn’t really get cranked up because they’ve only been practicing on half a floor due to the on-going renovation project at their school.

They even showed a disciplined side in milking more than a minute of the clock late in the final 90 seconds of the second quarter. They took it down 20 seconds at which time Herbert was screaming for a timeout. It took the officials 13 seconds to call it and then T’d up the Bearcats as they returned to the bench for showing concern for the officials’ auditory health.

The Bearcats led only once in the game, at 18-17 with 5:34 left in the first half, after Amardric Elston finished off Brandon Heath’s steal with a monster dunk. The Panthers scored the next five points and never trailed the rest of the game.

Weaver did rally from 10 down in the third quarter to pull within 45-44 with 4:30 to play, but then Southside’s Brock Habyan hit one of his three second-half 3-pointers to kill the momentum and the Bearcats never got closer than four after that.

“We’re a full-court team but we’ve been practicing really on one goal, so under those circumstances we’ve done well,” Herbert said. “If we can just learn from our mistakes, cut the live-ball turnovers, we’re going to be just fine. I’ve very pleased with our effort. Again, we’ve practiced for five days, so I’m very pleased.”

Weaver’s Robert Gaines led all scorers with 24 points. Spinks had 15 and Elston had seven points and nine rebounds. Brock Habyan led Southside with 22. Blake Habyan had 16 (14 in the second half).

Southside 62, Weaver 55
WEAVER (0-1) –
Taylor Deck 0 0-0 0, Brandon Heath 2 0-0 4, Robert Gaines 9 4-7 24, Shamar Spinks 6 2-2 15, Gary Wallace 0 1-2 1, Deandre McCain 2 0-0 4, Amardric Elston 3 1-1 7, Taber Stephens 0 0-0 0, Colby Thompson 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 8-12 55.
SOUTHSIDE (1-0) – Ravi Patel 0 0-0 0, Jordan Grantland 1 3-4 5, Blake Habyan 7 2-2 16, Brock Lawley 0 1-2 1, Colton Morrison 2 0-0 6, Tyler Rose 0 0-0 0, Tommy Simmons 3 2-2 9, Brock Habyan 6 6-11 22, Parker Crask 1 1-2 3. Totals 20 15-23 62.
Weaver 14 6 14 21 — 55
Southside 17 7 17 21 — 62

3-point goals: Weaver 3 (Gaines 2, Spinks); Southside 7 (Morrison 2, Simmons, Br. Habyan 4). Technical fouls: Elston. Fouled out: Heath, Gaines. Total fouls: Weaver 19, Southside 11. Officials: Simpson, Higdon, Wofford.

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