HARROGATE, Tenn. — The J. Frank White Academy boys’ basketball team finished with a record of 11-9. It was the first winning season the team has in several years and included signature wins over Hancock County, a first since 1997, and Washburn.
The Knights made the turnaround under the direction of first year head coach Cory Cheek, a 2009 graduate of Cumberland Gap High School. His assistants are Ricky Earl and Matthew Robinson.
“This program has become comfortable with losing. We had to learn what it takes to win both on and off the court,” Cheek said. “There was no secret to this year’s success. It took a tremendous amount of dedication, perseverance and hard work to achieve what we wanted to accomplish.”
On the court the team was led by seniors Kenneth Hernon, Seth Moyers and Nathan Dubin. Rounding out the team were Levi Cox, Frank Gao, Talton Dunn, Alex Wright, Will Parades and Tipton Hembree.
“These players had a tremendous challenge in front of them and had to overcome many hurdles such as players transferring and choosing not to play,” Cheek added. “We ended up having only five players returns from the previous season. The team chose to accept the challenge and believe in our system and the results followed.”
JFWA principal Jarryd Boster said watching the team show improvement was a rewarding experience.
“Coach Cheek has worked tirelessly to develop our players’ basketball and leadership skills. He has done this while developing a culture of accountability and building character traits that are essential to the success of these young men,” he said. “I couldn’t be more proud of our players and all of our coaching staff. I’m also very excited to see just how far they can take these young men and our program.”
Knight athletic director Bobby Lockhart said the change in the team was evident early on and that there are high hopes for more success in the future.
“Any time a new coach takes over there’s uncertainty and hope. I’d heard after our first scrimmages that the team looked different, looked better. Those folks were right,” he said. “These boys played hard for coach Cheek and anytime you have combined with solid fundamental basketball, that you’ve got a chance to win games. That’s how they finished with a winning season and notched some notable wins for our program. Our future looks bright for boys’ basketball.”