HAMPTON — Dutchtown High has been on an upward swing over the past few seasons and the basketball team, despite changing coaches for 2019-20, has a solid season going for first-year head coach Jordan Griffin.
From dropping over 100 points on opponents this season to dominating the region table in their own way, Dutchtown hasn’t skipped a beat under Griffin. Part of it all began at the beginning when he first walked through the doors.
“I definitely thought the program was in a good state, I thought we had a really good support staff and administration, and everything was aligned,” Griffin said. “I just had to come in and make a few tweaks to kind of keep it going and build on where it was at. I thought that at its core, everything you needed to be successful and make a state-run was already in place. I just had to come in and build off that. I think that’s what we’ve been able to do since I’ve been here.”
Building off the previous work was a big factor for this season for the Bulldogs. Around the team, it was known who’d be on the team. From Cameron Bryant and then Jamaine Mann, the Bulldogs had two big players to shape around. But wasn’t known was a point guard emerged on the scene suddenly.
That player was Kameron Hobbs, often referred to as the other Kam. This led to the Bulldogs having a big three, whether they wanted to admit it or not. The Bulldogs had a super team foundation and staked their claim to the county early.
“I definitely think it’s great to have those three guys. It makes my job as a coach a little bit easier,” Griffin said with a chuckle. “They’ve been great. Most people do consider it that they are our Big-Three, but I think the reality is — we have a good group of guys around them as well. I think it takes a total team to kinda do what we’re trying to do, and our goal is to win a state title. It’s good to have guys leading you but at the end of the day you have to have guys around them that are supporting them.”
The pressure to reach the playoffs isn’t on the mind of Griffin as the Bulldogs entered their Saturday night showdown with Eagle’s Landing well above being out of contention. Considering there is a region tournament this year as well, the Bulldogs should be well placed to finish in the top two.
But the expectations are to always compete for a state title.
“I don’t see it as pressure,” Griffin said. “I see it as an opportunity for us. I think it’s an amazing opportunity for what we can do here at Dutchtown. What’s been done before has laid the frame or the groundwork for us to continue to build off that. Hopefully, we can go one step further and win a state title.”
But they’ll have to face Eagle’s Landing High School as Eagle’s Landing head coach Elliott Montgomery said earlier in the season, maybe three times. The atmosphere of the first game in 2020 that was pushed back due to a power outage featured a college-like atmosphere. It was a packed crowd of over 1,000 fans of either side in one area.
“Myself being in that I thought it was a great atmosphere. For me and my guys I feel like we really relished the opportunity to be in that type of environment,” Griffin said. “I’ve been at the college level and I’ve seen it. I haven’t been in that many arenas that looked like that. For me, it felt like I was in a Final-Four type of game. That’s what it felt like and that was the result of two good teams playing against each other.
“I told my guys after the game that’s what you want,” he continued. “This is why you play those games to be in those types of moments and I thought it was a great opportunity for us to be in that moment.”