Warner Robins High School boys basketball coach Jamaal Garman isn’t new to fast starts and great regular season runs. His team has a combined 99-15 record over the past four seasons. That includes a 26-1 record in regional play. Last season they advanced to the 5A state championship tournament Elite Eight before falling to eventual champion Buford.
This year is no different for the Demons as they have sprinted off to a fast start and an undefeated record in their conference. Garman won’t have to worry about complacency from this group not only are their 10 seniors on this year’s 13-man squad, but nine of them were on the team last season. It sets up familiar territory for Garman.
“It’s nothing new this is our second time having a team heavily loaded with seniors. We had a team a couple years ago that had nine seniors,” Garman said. “We’re used to having a program like this.”
It’s a program that is senior led and Garman knows that is a valuable plus to the program.
“It’s a great thing to have those seniors because they actually do lead by example, in the classroom, in the hallways, in practice and in games. So these young guys get a chance to see it up close and personal because all three of my teams practice together,” Garman mentioned about having that senior leadership. “So they have an opportunity to see what’s going on, see how things are supposed to be done, see how tempo is supposed to be set. Pull out the leaders of the group. Leaders lead and the other guys get behind those guys and they force them to work hard.”
Warner Robins, like other Houston County schools, fields a ninth-grade team. It’s a luxury many other counties can’t afford. That gives them the opportunity to not only train more players but get them game experience. It has definitely paid dividends for the Demons over the years.
“The kids come into the program they automatically know that you have to work,” Garman notes. “If you come in as a ninth-grader you are going to have to work your tail off to make the ninth grade team. You’ll have to work even harder to make that JV as a tenth grader.”
That’s part of the reason why they have been so successful and why they have been so dominant against their rival Northside as of late. Their last meeting was an 88-52 Demons win at Northside. In fact, they have not lost to Northside in the past three seasons.
Despite the success Garman is still keenly aware of the importance of the rivalry and has tremendous respect for Northside.
“What coach Simon and Northside brings out of us, they bring out the best in us, Garman says about their rival. “They play super hard. You’ve got to be on your Ps and Qs when you play them because if they get you down they’re gonna keep you down. They make us sharp.”
Garman has one warning for those hoping to watch their rematch at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
“Unfortunately, our gyms aren’t big enough to hold big crowds right now. You’ve got to get to the game early if you’re trying to see it.”