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Davis: Area basketball teams experience a changing of the guards
Chestatee's Parker Smith, right, grabs a rebound against East Hall's Tracey Gardner last season.


Listen to Lakeview coach Seth Vining talk about who on his team is picking up where David Pruett left off.


Listen to Chestatee coach Russ Triaga talk about his team's future minus Parker Smith.

Spring is a time for rebirth and renewal, summer is a time for rebuilding; at least where a few area basketball teams are concerned.

Lost in the finality that is high school graduation were monsters of the Hall County hardwood and the leading scorers for the Chestatee and Lakeview boys and the North Hall girls.

Cliches abound regarding this topic: There is no "I" in team and records are made to be broken.

Plus there’s the quintessential statement that no one person makes a team.

But this isn’t the Bulls losing Ron Harper, it’s them the year after Michael Jordan retired the first time.

Parker Smith, a Tennessee State signee, scored 46 points in his first game as a freshman for the War Eagles and averaged better than 30 a game in his senior year.

The Lions’ David Pruett, who will be playing at Armstrong Atlantic next year scored over 21 points a game and North Hall’s dynamic duo of Elizabeth Williams and Letiecia Davenport combined for 21 points per game, eight assists, seven rebounds and seven steals.

In fact there were times this past season that Williams and Davenport accounted for all of their teams’ points in a game.

So what is a team and its coach to do when the go-to, when a player who’s been the go-to for four years, is gone?

As was witnessed by yours truly this past week in the sweltering heat of Northeast Georgia gyms, they pick up the pieces and, with an air of excitement and revitalization, move on.

"It’s a whole new game for us," first-year Lady Trojans coach Bryan Richerson said. "More than they’ve had to in the past four years, we’ve got to play as a team."

Using a mixture of players with absolutely no varsity game experience, the Lady Trojans hung with Class AAAAA Woodstock.

Ignorance is bliss and, as if playing to prove the adage, a crop of rising North Hall freshman, sophomores, juniors and seniors, drove to the basket, shot every time they had an open look and played defense with reckless abandon knowing they had no "go-to" to look to.

"This is why we’re playing over 30 games this summer," Richerson said. "The players are responding well and getting a taste of the differences between middle school ball, junior varsity ball and varsity ball.

"They are and have got to take it as a challenge and see where they need to get better."

Chestatee coach Russ Triaga, whose War Eagles played Class AAAAA Grayson to a five-point game Monday at Banks County High, allowed as to how the great thing about Georgia basketball was that the summer gives teams an opportunity to address problems.

"We get to probe the problems that come with losing some like Parker (Smith) this summer and figure out a way to attack them," he said.

"We look at it as a new challenge and (Branden) Jovaag and (Brandon) Smith look at it that way too. We can’t replace Parker, but as a team we can make up for his loss."

While Smith and Lakeview’s Pruett were the headline acts for their respective teams, it’s interesting to see the Gooses to their Mavericks take over the reigns.

Jovaag looked to shoot first and Smith, at point guard, literally pointed his younger teammates in the directions they needed to be going.

"I like the energy level on our team and I like the unity and even though we lose a kid like Parker," Triaga said, "Jackson Chandler is a three-year starter, Branden Jovaag is a three-year starter and Brandon Smith is a two-year starter so we have a lot of guys that have been in a lot of tough situations and are ready for the challenge.

"We’re a lot better than people think we are."

Much like Triaga, Lakeview coach Seth Vining is encouraged by what he sees from his returning players and noted that the prevailing thought coming into summer was that the 2008-2009 team would be better than last year.

Returning for Lakeview is a four-year starter at point guard in Haughton Carswell and the Lions second leading scorer in Tyler Ward.

"Well, definitely someone’s got to take up (David Pruett’s) slack," he said, "and the boys are aware of that but the good thing is, when you have a lot of players returning, you’ve got experienced players that have a lot to build on versus, say, losing you entire team.

"I think this way and I’m sure if you asked our players they’d say the same, I believe and they believe that we can be better than we were last year and that’s the goal."

Maybe losing a go-to player, a star, serves as the confidence boost needed to make a team greater than that one player made them.

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