New-look Panthers prepare for upcoming season


Shelby Foster

Staff Writer Ty Odom sits down with seniors Nate Allison (right) and Julian Lynch (center), and head coach Charlemagne Gibbons. Last season, the Panthers captured their first ever region championship and made it to the Elite 8 of the GHSA State Playoffs. Under new leadership, Starr’s Mill will look to improve upon an already talented and successful roster.

Ty Odom, Staff Writer

After winning the region 3-AAAAA championship and making it to the Elite 8 in the state playoffs, the Panther varsity basketball team had an eventful offseason. They lost seven seniors, hired a new coach, and gained a new player from a transfer. Such things usually do not happen after a successful season, but the new-look team is aiming to go even further in the upcoming season.

Last year, Starr’s Mill finished the season with a 22-8 overall record, and a 10-2 region record, earning them the top seed in the region tournament and a state playoff berth.

“We’ve been doing a lot of good things to prepare for the season,” senior center Nate Allison said. “I think it’s going to be an easy transition.”

Three of the seven seniors that graduated were starters for the Mill. Guards Jake Bishop and Carson Langham were key contributors to the backcourt with their combination of passing and shooting. Forward Drew Hudson was the focal point of the Panther offense, scoring over 1,000 points in his high school career. Reserves James Harris, Max Marquardt, Dean Patterson, and Mitchell Prowant also made significant contributions off the bench. Despite losing such a talented class, Starr’s Mill has several players to fill the roles last year’s seniors left.

A coach can’t ask for a better situation going into his first year, so I want to build off of their success they’ve had over the past few years.”

— head coach Charlemagne Gibbons

Allison, who has been on the varsity squad since his freshman year, remains a low-post threat on both sides of the floor. Fellow senior Julian Lynch brings in scoring from the perimeter and on drives to the rim, and junior point guard Zac Cerniglia showed promise with his playmaking skills last season. The Panthers also added junior forward Jamaine Mann, a nationally ranked preseason 1st team all-state player from Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy, who averaged 10.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.9 steals, and 1.9 blocks per game.

In addition to a new player, the basketball program hired a new coach, Charlemagne Gibbons, previously an assistant coach at Florida Atlantic University.

“I was brought into a good situation with a lot of good returning players,” Gibbons said. “A coach can’t ask for a better situation going into his first year, so I want to build off of their success they’ve had over the past few years.”

Gibbons looks to implement a faster style of play for the Panthers, getting shots up quickly and scoring more often. The team will have to adapt to the new system, especially after playing under a system that emphasized getting the best shot, causing a slower pace.

“I think I’ve been adapting well [so far],” Lynch said. “I’ve been doing my best to do as much as I can for the team each year, and this year I’ll be giving a lot more effort.”

The team’s home opener is on Nov. 27 against East Coweta. Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m.

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