Former Mikes star Lawless takes over as Rockets coach | Sports

Jefferson-Morgan will have a lot of familiar faces that will return to his men’s basketball team this season.

A new face, however, will be its head coach.

Carmichaels and Waynesburg University graduate Brandon Lawless succeeds Dennis Garrett, who has held the position for the past eight years.

Lawless was a 1,000 point scorer and two-time Greene County Messenger High School Player of the Year for the Mikes. During his senior season in 2013-14, Lawless led Carmichaels to three wins in three tries against JM, the same team he has now taken over in his first varsity coaching position.

Is it weird overseeing a team that was one of your rivals in high school?

“I don’t think of it like that,” Lawless said. “I mean, yeah, I’m a Mike at heart. Of course we were rivals. But that doesn’t matter here. I’m a coach for the competition and I want the best for these kids who will play. for me. I want them to be successful. That’s my goal as a basketball coach.

At 25, Lawless is the youngest boys’ coach in the region.

“It’s a little different. I can relate to them in a way, because it wasn’t that long ago that I was in high school, ”Lawless said. “We try to gain respect from each other.

“I don’t think they think if I’m a young coach maybe they can get away with something. Of course, every once in a while you will have a child who will test you, but then there will be disciplinary action involved in something like that.

Lawless has a veteran presence on his team in 42-year-old assistant coach Brent Baker, who is also JM’s football coach.

“He’s really helping a lot,” said Lawless, who spoke about the challenges of becoming a first-year coach.

“Getting into a whole new program with people you don’t know is essentially starting from scratch, as far as familiarity is concerned,” Lawless said. “You have to build from the ground up because you are entering a new atmosphere with a different training philosophy. It’s a change, that’s for sure.

The Rockets return four starters from last year to senior Tahj Jacobs, Colt Fowler and Josh Wise as well as junior Troy Wright. Kijuan Paige and Jordan Jacobs, two seniors who also played last year, are also back.

Lawless, however, does not yet have a starting roster set for the 2021-22 season.

“There is a core of kids that will be in the rotation but nothing is stuck,” Lawless said. “We’re going to evaluate and re-evaluate before we decide who will be the starters and the best players off the bench.

“We have depth. This is a good thing. We can run about eight or nine depths.

The Rockets are still adjusting to their new coach.

“At first it was a little change for them, something they weren’t used to,” Lawless said of implementing his own system. “It took time and rehearsals. They are starting to adapt. We are not yet where we want to be.

“We’re going to use our scrums to gauge our position against the competition and use what we’ve already put in our system and see what we need to improve.”

The Rockets will be custody-focused again this season.

“We’re pretty multidimensional. We’re not very tall, ”Lawless said. “We run a lot of guards with a big one or two. Our main ball handlers are Troy and Tahj.

As well as being a great high school basketball player, Lawless was a statewide baseball player who helped lead the Mikes to the WPIAL Finals in his senior year and also played college baseball. for the Yellow Jackets.

“Honestly, I think I was better at baseball, but I’ve always been passionate about basketball,” Lawless said.

Despite being a new college coach, Lawless has old-fashioned philosophies that he took from a legendary coach.

“I played basketball under Don Williams and I use a lot of his old systems,” Lawless said. “He was one of my biggest mentors growing up. Donnie really knew basketball and he passed on a lot to me during my four years with him. I have definitely benefited from his program and his system.

Now Lawless will try to forge a successful coaching career.

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