GROWTH EQUALS SUCCESS

BHS’ Dunham named top player in area, Frederica’s Nash top coach

Growth, whether it’s physical, mental or emotional, is something every successful team or athlete goes through at some point. Brunswick High senior Jaden Dunham and Frederica Academy coach Carl Nash have both witnessed what growth can do during a season.

The News honors Dunham, who filled big shoes this season, as the Coastal Georgia All-Area Boys Basketball MVP and Nash, who led his team to its first GISA Region 2-3A championship, as the Coach of the Year.

MVP

Jaden Dunham had huge shoes to fill this season after the Pirates had last year’s Region 2-6A player of the Year Joyful Hawkins leave Brunswick for another school.

While for some players that would add stress, Dunham embraced the challenge.

“I changed my mindset,” Dunham said. “I knew I had to focus and make sure everybody was aboard the ship. I changed my game up by slowing it down some. When I played it at my pace, I knew I could get done what needed to be done on and off the court.”

Brunswick coach Chris Turner said Dunham finally started to believe in himself and once he did that, his mental confidence grew tremendously.

“He’s come out of his shell where he just believes that he can do it,” Turner said. “I think that’s a lot of growth for him to finally say you know what I’m good enough to help lead a team and win. I think sometimes he didn’t know how good he really was.

“I saw it in him as a young player because he’s so skilled — Jaden can do a lot of things,” Turner said. “He knows if he gets in really good shape that he could be really dangerous. I’m just thankful he got the opportunity to lead a team, and have the kind of year that he had and the success as an individual and team.”

There isn’t much that Dunham isn’t good at on the court. He can shoot the basketball, rebound and those long arms allowed him to become a blocking machine.

Dunham was the Pirates leading scorer this year as he averaged 15.8 points, 10.8 rebounds and 2.9 blocks a game. He played in 28 games this season and was a key contributor to Brunswick’s 19 wins.

Since he was a freshman, Turner said that he knew Dunham had something special about him.

“I love coaching Jaden. I can remember when he was really young when I first saw him at Brunswick — I made him come to my tryout as a young freshman,” Turner said. “When I looked at him, I said gosh this kid is going to be good one day if I could just get him out there participating and getting better each year. I try to get the best out of the kids and push them to be the best they can be as far as a player, student and as a person. I’m proud of Jaden.”

On and off the court, Dunham holds himself to a high standard. He tries to works out at least four hours a day and plays against people who challenge him. The handwork paid off for the senior as he won the 2019-20 GHSA Region 2-6A Player of the Year award.

“That means more than a lot to me,” Dunham said. “Knowing that I’ve been through a lot in my life, being named the player of the year was a memorable moment for me. I felt like I worked hard enough to be in that spot.”

Dunham said that this season along with winning Player of the Year was all for his former teammate, Tae Pierce, who passed away.

“He was like a brother to me,” Dunham said. “He was a good person to this community, so this season was definitely for him.”

Coach of the Year

After falling short three years in a row, Frederica Academy’s boys basketball team shocked Trinity Christian in the region championship game to finally take home the school’s first GISA Region 2-3A championship.

The Knights had a young team full of scrappy and passionate players that refused to go home with anything less than that title. Frederica fell in the first round of the state playoffs, but to head coach Carl Nash, this team and season were one of the best he’s had in his 39 years of coaching.

“We’ve been in the championship game every year I’ve been here, but we’ve failed to win it,” Nash said. “I think as a coach you learn over time you’re going to have a team one day that does have the ability to work together and they’ll be successful. I felt that way with this group as time went on.”

Frederica started the season out slow losing four of its first six games, but with the guidance of Nash, the team came together and put together an impressive run to win the title.

“I just think it took some time for this team to understand what it took to win as an eclectic group,” Nash said. “This is a relatively young team. They were all pretty new to me— getting to know me and the rest of the staff and what’s required. Plus just getting to know each other as teammates, that takes a little bit of time. Over a period of time, you could see them starting to gel and start playing as a team. It might be a cliche, but the cohesion this team had really built up over time.”

Nash said that this team understood that they had to come together to be successful. He said that for a team to have success, the players must believe in each other.

As the season went on, the team grew closer.

“Your games, your teams are led by your tough kids— the kids that are mentally strong that keep everybody together,” Nash said. “They may not go out there and score 20 a night, but they’re going to keep your group together and they’re physically and emotionally strong— that is Denver Anthony and Bryce Reilly. Those two guys are some of the fiercest competitors you can have on a team and they drove us to victories when we didn’t think we were going to get those.

“Players are going to follow guys like that. They’re going to follow guys that they know are going to give them the toughness and will-power to finish out every game, and that’s what we did. Those guys never quit. It didn’t matter what the score of the game was, they were going to finish the game out till the very end. Everybody kind of hopped on their back and went with them.”

Despite losing one of its best players in Denver Anthony, next year’s group will have to find a way to stay together as a whole.

“Losing Denver is going to be extremely difficult for us — for me as a head coach,” Nash said. “We’ve got Bryce (Reilly) back, Eli (Fritchman), Xavier (Collier) and our two eighth-graders. We’re just going to have a team next year that’s going have to do it without a leader like Denver and just collectively again bring it back together.”

This was Nash’s fourth season as the Knights coach. He said that he’s only as good as those he’s surrounded with like his assistant coaches Billy Shuman and Dominque Clinch. Frederica Academy’s girls coach Sara Helder joined the bench and helped out towards the end of the season as well. Nash said those three were big parts to this season and was glad to have them.

“I’ve coached at every level now, and I can tell you this was one of the most satisfying seasons I’ve ever had in my entire career,” Nash said.

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