McDONOUGH — Eagle’s Landing High boys’ basketball has been a top team in Henry County for many years but when it comes down to this season, don’t call them stacked around head coach Elliott Montgomery.
“We have some talent, but in 2013 we were stacked,” Montgomery said. “We got a lot of question marks this year.”
Those questions marks are behind the two front-runners of the program in Kirshon Thrash and Keith Lamar, and that’s not to take away from either of the two who could single-handedly take over a game. For Montgomery, the pair of Thrash and Lamar are great to have around the program because it’s been a long time since they’ve had two go-to players who play at a high level.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve had two kids at this caliber — a long time,” Montgomery said. “We also have the young kid (David) Thomas but he’s a kid and him playing like he has at a school like this with the criticism he’s going to receive here is just tough. We’ve got AJ Barnes another young kid. We’re just we’re just very young. Rodney Allen, a kid who played some last year but not a lot. When you guys say stacked, I still want to know, who’s my sixth man coming off the bench? Nobody knows because I don’t even know half the time.”
But even with the youth, the Golden Eagle’s hold an impressive record and lead region 4-AAAAA. The games against the Bulldogs probably won’t change how they work even though there may be some pressure on the opposite side of it all.
“Dutchtown is a really good team with veteran experience and I don’t have to name them. You can name them and everybody reading this article will be able to name them,” Montgomery said. “In my opinion, this game means absolutely nothing only because it’s the first of maybe three meetings. I say maybe, I didn’t say anything but maybe — maybe three meetings.”
The Golden Eagles haven’t soared to the state championship game since the dream run of 2013 but each player that’s graduated has a tie to the next set of rising athletes. For Montgomery, he says it’s fun to know that players like Jordan Sessions and many others who’ve gone on to play college and even professional basketball come back and assist from time to time.
“It’s not like kids who’ve done good things and don’t come back,” Montgomery said. “These kids have relationships with those guys. I mean we’re blessed right now to have were them come here and want to help with the freshman team. Jordan Sessions comes here before he leaves to go to China. Trevin Joseph called to come and work out with these kids.”
Over four years, Eagle’s Landing has gone 90-24, that’s a run that many coaches would dream of. But not for Montgomery exactly. There isn’t any pressure on him as the coach to reach the state championship game, a game that’s been taunting the program for the past six years.
A passionate no will be the first thing that Montgomery will say when pressure to return to the state championship game is mentioned.
“Most coaches if they could win 90 games in four years would love it but for us, it is a great thing that we’ve won games, but it doesn’t weigh on me, but it’s time. And with this group, I must admit to you this group can do it,” Montgomery said. “They’re good enough to do it. They are. With no pressure from them or their parents. I told them this, you know, we haven’t won a state championship and put it on the coach. Because when you win, as I told you before, when you win — it’s because you got good kids. And when you lose it’s the coach’s fault, so we have not been as successful because of me as a coach. And we are going to do better. And I believe that this year is the year. I do believe it.”