Southside girls basketball lacks experience, but players are ‘excited every single day’

Over the next few weeks, SBLive Arkansas will break down every 6A boys and girls basketball team in the state entering the 2020-21 season. Here’s our look at the Southside Mavericks girls.

SOUTHSIDE TEAM PAGE | 2020-21 SCHEDULE

HEAD COACH

Robert Brunk, second season (0-26)

2019-20 AT A GLANCE

Overall record: 0-26

Conference record: 0-14 (eighth place in 6A Central)

Playoffs: None

ALL-STATE PLAYERS DEPARTED

None

PLAYERS TO WATCH

G Sierra Smith, fr., 5-7

Smith, a freshman point guard, has already become one of Southside’s top offensive players. She is a good outside shooter, can get to the rim and is a natural leader. “The first two games we’ve had, she’s led us in scoring,” Brunk said. “She’s just got a lot of those floor general qualities … and is helping us get to where we need to be.” 

G Iana Perry, so., 5-6

Perry is an athletic and explosive sophomore who is playing varsity basketball for the first time. Brunk said Perry made strides with her outside shot during the offseason. “We tell her all the time that she’s a bulldog on defense,” Brunk said. “She’s a really strong defender, and I think by the time she graduates she can be an elite perimeter defender.” 

C Addi Branham, jr., 5-10

After missing time as a sophomore because of an injury, Branham improved her game over the summer and is playing with more confidence this season. “She knows and understands what her role is on the team,” Brunk said. “She defends, hits the boards, hustles. She does her job better than anyone else on the team does.”

G Tinsley Freeman, so., 5-7

Freeman is coming off a successful volleyball season and can play guard or forward on the basketball court. Brunk said Freeman is a good shooter and decision maker who will be a key piece for Southside. “She is another leader on the floor and has been successful in junior high and volleyball,” Brunk said. “That’s something she will bring to the team, someone who is successful and used to winning.”

OUTLOOK

Brunk knew what he was walking into when he accepted the Southside head coaching position in April 2019. The Mavericks went 0-24 during the 2018-19 season and had nowhere to go but up in a conference with some of the state’s top teams.

The program’s losing streak was at 53 games entering the 2020-21 season, but Brunk is optimistic that better days are on the horizon.

“Our overall talent is greater than what it’s been even going back two years just off watching film,” Brunk said. “We have some girls that are able to do more than we were able to do last year.”

Smith could be a four-year starting point guard for Southside, and Brunk said the team welcomed her from the beginning. The Mavericks have depth behind Smith in the backcourt, which should give them a chance to be more competitive on a nightly basis.

“Our guard play is going to be a lot better this year,” Brunk said. “We shoot the ball better, we make better decisions, we won’t make as many turnovers as we did last year.”

Southside is still extremely light on experience. No Maverick has played more than one season of varsity basketball, Brunk said. The team also is on the shorter side, but Brunk is looking forward to ending the program’s losing streak this season and continuing to build for the future.

“We’re going to make mistakes that inexperienced players make, but we have to put ourselves in situations where we are being competitive every night,” Brunk said. “We don’t want it to be like last year or the year before where it was a quarter and the game was over.” 

COACH SAID 

“It’s a weakness, but at times it can be a strength that we’re very, very inexperienced. When you coach a young team, the energy level is ridiculous because they are excited every single day.” — Robert Brunk

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