After two weeks of play, the boys’ basketball team at South Garner has a perfect record of 3 wins and 0 losses.
It may be overlooked or not fully appreciated, but it is remarkable that a school only six years old holds such a record. The Titans have never achieved more than eight wins in a single season.
However, things may be changing now as I enter Year Six and board Coach No. 3.
Coach Kendrick Hall decided it was time to reestablish a feeling of belonging. He had spent the last four years in Onslow County at Northside of Jacksonville, and with his children now out of college, he and his wife made the decision to return to the Triangle area.
“I have always been eager to take on the coaching role in Wake County,” stated Hall, who achieved 80 victories during the five-year span of the mid-2010s while leading Southern Durham.
Assuming control at South Garner was a seamless combination of a skilled coach from the Triangle region and a flourishing program.
This summer, Hall was given the opportunity to drive one of the newest and most promising cars in the lot.
In the 2022-23 season, South Garner had a perfect record of 22-0 in their junior varsity program, despite their varsity team only finishing with a record of 8-19 the previous year.
The junior varsity Titans were far from being considered “junior.”
The team earned a total of 1,400 points and managed to beat their opponents with an average score of 66-39.
Three different players averaged double figures, five of them hauled in over four rebounds per contest. South Garner handed 19-2 Knightdale JV its only losses of the season, and ran through traditional junior varsity powers at Garner, Millbrook and Broughton.
“Currently, eight of those players are starters for the varsity team. Guards Kai Muschette and Loddie Leach have an average of 10.3 points and 5.7 assists per game.”
Hall mentioned that the children are beginning to have confidence in their ability to win. The team has developed a mindset of expecting to win every time they play, which has become their defining characteristic.
Najai Hines, who stands at 6 feet and 10 inches, is a unique player in the Wake County public school basketball scene. In the first two weeks of the season, he has been averaging 15.3 rebounds per game, making him the top rebounder in the state. He also leads among 4A players with an average of 4.7 blocks per game. Additionally, his impressive dunks and skillful three-point shots have earned him a team-leading average of 14.7 points per game.
Hall is experienced in handling this caliber of skill.
During his last two years at Southern Durham, he led the Spartans to a record of 41-12 and had an overall record of 81-47. In the 2015-2016 academic year, Southern Durham had a successful run to the 3A regional semifinals.
This time, the approach in the Triangle is unique as Hall actively searched for a program that he and his players could develop from the ground up.
The lasting impact of this time period will be unique to them.
“It’s a distinct sensation when entering a space where you’re striving to continue succeeding, versus having to rectify a negative situation that was previously left behind,” remarked Hall. “The more we cultivate a mindset of winning, the more it will become ingrained in our DNA.”
Although starting the season with a record of 3-0 is already a school record for South Garner, the Titans have the opportunity to do even better as they prepare to play against Cary, who has not yet won a game, and Knightdale, who currently holds a record of 4-1. This comes after their victory against Knightdale with a score of 61-55 last Monday, and before they begin conference play against their rival, Garner.
For a while now, Garner has been the dominant town for the Trojans, but this upcoming winter could be when the Titans finally make a name for themselves.
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