The 2017-2018 season didn’t end the way that Coach Ernie Watson or his players wanted. The Tigers made the state tournament and lost in the quarterfinals to Canton. However, it’s a new season and a new start for the Tigers who start practice on Monday, October 15.
“Our expectations for this season are to get back to the state tournament and perform better than we did last season,” Watson said. “Ultimately, we want to win the whole thing. Hattiesburg is starting to establish a winning tradition in every sport. We might as well join that bandwagon too. We’ll ride the [bandwagon] to state.”
Watson plans on riding the bandwagon back to the state tournament using his abundance of talented juniors. The Tigers only have three seniors on the roster, and Watson expects his juniors, Jonathan Brown, Cameron Brown, Chris Lewis, Ivory Stallings, and Nicholas Walker, to lead his team both on the court and off.
“They went through this last year as sophomores,” Watson said. “They’re a year older, more mature, stronger, and have a better game. They’re going to be the voice of the team. How they go is how we’ll go as a team.”
Coming off last season in which he averaged eight points a game as a sophomore, Watson thinks junior Cam Brown will be the Tigers leading scorer and offensive creator. Chriss Lewis and Nicholas Walker will be in charge under the basket as what Coach Watson called the Tigers’ “high-fliers.” The Tigers will be looking to Ivory Stallings and Jaylen Harrell to make crucial shots from all over the court.
Watson is prepared to play 10-12 kids throughout the season. Watson is well-known for his five in, five out substitution method that has often raised questions.
“I like to play the kids that have earned it during the week at practice and do what they are supposed to do in the classroom,” Watson said. “You’ve got to reward them.”
The Tigers play a tough regular season schedule this season, with numerous 6A matchups and rivalry games.
“It really spices up the season,” Watson said. “[The season] can get dull and boring. To play teams like Oak Grove, Petal, Laurel, and Wayne County it adds spice. It prepares your team for those big games at the divisional tournament.”
Hattiesburg’s regular season marquee matchups include Oak Grove twice, Petal twice, Wayne County twice, and Laurel.
Hattiesburg opens up regular season play against Harrison Central at home on November 6 at 7:30 pm. Fans can buy season tickets through the Hattiesburg Athletic Boost Club.