Spartans off to a hot start to the season

Spartans off to a hot start to the season
December 15
14:10 2021

Mt. Tabor had a great season last spring, posting a 13-3 record and going all the way to the third round of the state playoffs, eventually losing to Weddington 61-48. This year, it’s looking like the Spartans are poised to make another deep playoff run as they are off to a 6-0 start to the season.

“We came off a 13-3 season and went to the elite eight in 3A and now we are stepping back up to the Central Piedmont in the 4A,” said Andy Muse, Mt. Tabor head coach. “We have all of our players back except for two, so we are very excited.

“We still have a young group. We have two freshmen and three sophomores still on the team, so we still have a young group and I am very excited about Mt. Tabor basketball. We started out 5-0 this season and we are averaging 82 points a game and it has been a great start to the season.”

Not only has Mt. Tabor started the year undefeated, they have dominated most of their opponents on the court. Of their six victories at the time this article was written, the Spartans have won five of those games by 20-plus points.

“We knew we were going to play at a fast pace and up-tempo this year, a whole lot faster than the last two years,” Muse said. “We knew we were going to have high scores, but our defense has been tremendous in our first five games and our offense has been coming from our defense.

“We probably have the quickest team I’ve had since I’ve been at Mt. Tabor. I didn’t say the best, I said the quickest. We got six shooters that really shoot the ball. They are playing together, they’re sharing the basketball, and right now they’re putting the team first.”

So far this year, Jamarius “JP” Peterkin, Finley Simmons, Vonn Campbell, O’Shae Fernanders and Shamarius Peterkin, among others, have really stepped up for Muse and the Spartans. Muse feels he has a good mixture of veteran leadership and freshman talent.

With a full offseason this year, Muse was able to get in some good work with his team in preparation for the year.

“We did a lot of fundamentals,” he said, “shooting, dribbling, passing and footwork, and I think that’s really helped out with this year’s play on the court.”

Coming back to the 4A level is not a problem for the Spartans, Muse said. They were in a tough conference last year, so they are used to the high level of play to come this year.

“The league that we were in last year was one of the best leagues in the state of North Carolina, it didn’t matter 1A through 4A,” Muse said about last year’s conference. “With Greensboro Smith, Southwest Guilford, Greensboro Dudley, and Mt. Tabor, it didn’t get any better than that athletically.

“I know that the coaches in the Central Piedmont are some of the best coaches in the state and it will be a tough conference race.”

Muse says he wants his team to take it one game at a time and not look ahead to the Frank Spencer Tournament.

“We want to get by these first three conference games first,” he said. “We got West Forsyth, Reynolds, and East Forsyth back-to-back-to-back, and then we will think about the Frank Spencer.

“It’s a time where everybody in Winston, you’re going to see the best of the best and everybody plays well in that tournament. Nobody is going to have a letdown and we will see who is one of the best teams in Winston.”

Keeping his team level headed has been the goal for Muse and his staff for the past week. He knows they are off to a good start, but wants his team to remember there are bigger goals ahead.

“That’s all we have been talking about the last three days,” Muse said about keeping his team’s ego in check. “We just got to bring energy, and bring desire, and just play hard. If we play hard, have fun, and try to execute and play together, everything will work out for the best.”

Even though they suffered a tough loss in last year’s playoffs, Muse feels his team learned valuable lessons that will assist them in their efforts this season.

“I think they probably learned from it and to be much more cohesive this year with sharing the ball,” he continued.  “The ball is really moving and not sticking in anyone’s hands and I think they learned from last year’s Weddington game to help us to start this season.”

Since Muse has been at Mt. Tabor, they have continually been one of the best teams in the city and perineal playoff contenders.

“We have just been blessed with athletes that buy in and leadership from our seniors that pass on the torch year after year to the next group,” Muse said about his success at Mt. Tabor.  “We just work hard, work on fundamentals and we work on playing together.  We have been very blessed at Mt. Tabor to have good people and good players.”

Throughout the years, there have been several coaches from Muse’s coaching tree that have moved on to be the head coach or assistants at other programs.

“I have had great assistant coaches over the years,” said Muse.  “I want assistant coaches that want to be head coaches.  I don’t want yes men on my staff, and I think we have surrounded ourselves with some of the best assistant coaches around.  I think that’s why they move on and they’re successful in other programs.”

“Number one, they are good people and I think you have to be a good person to know how to relate to kids and adults to be a good head coach and assistant coach.  I think that’s where it starts, just surrounding yourself with good people.”

With most of last year’s team back in the fold this year, another deep playoff run is not beyond the realm of possibility for the Spartans, Muse stated.

“I think we can go deep in the playoffs in 4A and we will see where we go,” he said.  “I like this group and if we can sustain our defense and unselfishness, I think we can go a long ways.”

Muse stated he has seen some of the talk about the supposed dominance of the Charlotte area teams in sports, but feels there are several Triad area teams that can compete with anyone in the state.

“The cream always rises to the top,” he stated.  “Regardless of what comes out in social media or media, the cream is going to rise to the top no matter where they are from.

“We have a good brand of basketball in the Triad and I think the teams have always represented the Triad very well in the state playoffs over the years.”

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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