Coach of the Year: Williams helms year full of firsts for North Cobb
by Carlton D. White
cwhite@mdjonline.com
March 30, 2013 12:29 AM | 1887 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Matt Williams
<br>Staff photo by Todd Hull
Matt Williams
Staff photo by Todd Hull
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North Cobb’s girls basketball team opened its 2012-13 season with a convincing win over Stone Mountain and just kept on going.

There were a few hiccups along the way — including losses to McEachern and Kell on consecutive nights in January — but those were like blips on a radar. The Lady Warriors produced the best season in their program’s history, going 27-4 overall and 16-1 in Region 4AAAAAA.

The 27 victories marked a team record, and the Lady Warriors went on to capture their first region championship and reach the state semifinals for the first time since 1967.

For guiding North Cobb to the best season of its long history, Matt Williams is the 2012-13 Marietta Daily Journal/ Cobb County Girls Basketball Coach of the Year.

“It’s definitely a huge honor,” Williams said. “There are a lot of good coaches in the county, so it’s definitely a huge honor.”

Experience, leadership, talent and direction proved to be the keys to North Cobb’s successful season. Led by seniors Sierra Barrino, Amber Reeves, Briah Woods and Jordan Gray, the Lady Warriors were a team to be reckoned with right from the start.

“I had four seniors that showed great leadership the whole year — four seniors that had been in the program since ninth grade and some since middle school,” Williams said. “They kind of knew the expectations because they all played varsity ball as freshmen.

“We didn’t have any juniors. We had three sophomores and two freshmen. (The seniors) just showed the kids the right way to do things. We were a very goal-oriented team, and one of our team goals was to win the region and the region championship. Our ultimate goal was going to the state finals. We didn’t get there, but we had a great run.”

North Cobb fell 57-40 to North Gwinnett in the state semifinals, and though the Lady Warriors didn’t reach their ultimate goal, it was their performance and abilities at the onset that proved beneficial.

The coaching was pretty good, too.

“First of all, you have to have players that can play to get to that level,” Williams said. “We had a lot of players that played good basketball, and we would have never, ever been (to the state semifinals) if it hadn’t been for my two assistants, Adam Cogbill and John Speeney. They were key to our success as well.

“It takes a combination of good things. This year, besides Amber Reeves not playing the first five games because of her ACL tear that she had last year, we had very, very little injuries, which was key. So, I think a lot of that had to go into our team’s success, too.”

Williams also credited his players’ attitudes and intelligence as key factors.

“The kids were very coachable,” he said. “They listened to what we thought needed to be done, and we reached our success from that. Our varsity GPA was a 3.2. That’s pretty high. They were very smart basketball players.

Making its sixth straight state playoff appearance, North Cobb gradually improved on previous seasons. A second-round showing in 2009-10 led to back-to-back quarterfinals in 2010-11 and 2011-12, finally culminating with this year’s semifinal-round berth.

“We hoped this team could get further in the state playoffs than the year before, but you just never know,” Williams said. “You have to have a little bit of skill, you have to have some luck, you have to have a lot of little things to happen, and we had that happen quite often this year.

“The region championship was definitely a big moment, and that final four was a special moment. We got to play in front of a lot of people at Georgia Tech. It was a great atmosphere. I’m very proud of what our team accomplished.”
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