It was quite the prep basketball season for the Jones twins.
Tim Jones and the Riverdale Ridge girls basketball team made it to the elite 8 this season, a first in program history.
Billy Jones and the Adams City Eagles boys basketball team made it to the state 5A playoffs, a first for the Eagles in 20 years.
“It starts with the offseason details,” Billy Jones said. “I knew we weren’t going to be very big as a team. So, we had to figure out what fit the style of play to the players we had.”
Adams City finished with a mark of 13-11. Jalen McKinnies, a junior, led the squad in scoring at a bit more than 14 points per game. Moe Shongolo came off the bench and tossed in 11 points per outing. Deangelo Lee, who started most of the season for the Eagles, and Kevin Collins averaged about seven rebounds per game. Lee made 46 percent of his field goals, tops on the squad.
“At times it was surprising. But, for the most part, I knew how hard we worked this offseason,” Billy Jones said. “So, it was more of a relief to see these boys reach what they had already worked so hard for.”
It’s been a tough few months in the Adams 14 School District, what with talk of closing schools and reorganizing others. The Adams City coach hopes the basketball success will change some things.
“I think this season brought a lot of pride to the school and the community,” Billy Jones said. “It gave people something to cheer for and proud to be a part of. Our fans base grew larger every game, the students now have a students’ section full of students. This time last year, we didn't even have a student section, let alone students rooting for their peers.
“You can, for sure, feel the culture change throughout the city,” he continued. “Surprisingly none of the off court distractions affect us in a negative way. If anything, we used the negative talk about us and our school as fuel to change the narrative about us.”
Three players .. Joelle Maes, Shongolo and Omar Sandoval .. graduate later this spring. Shongolo was the only starter among that trio.
“I will have all my leaders returning and a few younger classmen who I expect to step up and fill that void instantly,” Billy Jones said. “If there is anything I would take from this season and apply to upcoming seasons is that hard work always shows up to play, even on days when talent doesn’t.”
Two years ago, ACHS won once in 14 starts during a COVID-shortened season. In 2019-2020, Adams City didn’t win a game.
“It is nice to have been able to put up a few banners as a player for Adams City. And now, I'm doing it as a coach for the Eagles,” Billy Jones said. “I will have four our five starters returning next season. So, we all are excited to go even further next season.”