THOMASVILLE — What a difference an offseason makes for the Thomasville Bulldogs.
Last year's team, like others in the Georgia High School Association, didn't experience a normal summer due to the onset of COVID-19. The team experienced quarantines and had their schedule interrupted by the pandemic.
This year, the Bulldogs had the typical summer workout, played in a couple of tournaments and approach the upcoming season with feelings of excitement and expectation. It's been a breath of fresh air for head coach Ben Tillman.
“To be honest with you it really is a big relief,” Tillman said. “Last year we were going through the season hoping to get from one game to the next with all of our players and even the opponents. Coming up this year, if you notice around our communities, our COVID numbers are starting to decrease. That's really positive for us and gives us a better outlook to help us understand that we are guaranteed some games now.
“We had a chance to go play in several camps this summer. I think it's really going to pay dividends for us. We're really excited about our opportunities, especially with the group of kids that we have coming back this year.”
Thomasville returns four seniors, including starters Tyson Anderson and Amarion Banks; along with two who are on the football team; Avon Laing and Tykeem Anderson. The Bulldogs also return two other starters in juniors Harrison Jackson and A.J. Dent.
“I think we've got a lot of experience,” Tillman said. “We lost Clifford (Davis) and a couple of other kids, but I think we've got a lot of experience from those kids. They're ready to step up to the plate and become the leaders that they've been trained to be.”
The experienced Bulldogs lead a team trying to make another postseason run. The Bulldogs advanced to the Class AA semifinals last year before losing to Pace Academy. Thomasville will open the season on Saturday, Nov. 20 at home against Bainbridge.
“We always try to divide our season into fours; non-region, region, region tournament and then state playoffs. We always try to divide that up and we're going to continue to do that as we have done all year long,” Tillman said. “We want to make sure we have played the toughest non-region schedule that we can and then we want to play really good basketball in our region and then move on to the region tournament. Hopefully, the Lord will bless us to be able to have some productivity in the state playoffs.”