Washington, though, was quick to caution that Pebblebrook isn’t quite at the level of Hillgrove or North Cobb — two state semifinalists last season — or a McEachern team that’s a regular in postseason play.
The Falcons might be a lot closer than their coach thinks.
Based on the strides they’ve made since Washington took the helm two years ago, contending for a region title this season or the next isn’t too much of a stretch to believe.
Washington started mostly freshmen his first season, and Pebblebrook endured growing pains, en route to a 4-21 season. Those freshmen became sophomores last season, and the record improved to 12-14.
With mostly juniors on the floor this year, the Falcons are 9-3 overall and 4-2 in the region, and those “classy” programs are talking about them.
“They’re as talented as anyone in the region,” McEachern coach Mike Thompson said.
As Pebblebrook’s junior-laden team continues to gain experience, the Falcons could become the team to beat.
“I told the guys it’s a process,” said Washington, who was an assistant coach for McEachern girls coach Phyllis Arthur before coming to Pebblebrook. “In three years, we should be competitive. In Year 3, we’re competitive. We’re still not with the Hillgroves and McEacherns, but we’re trying to get there.”
Pebblebrook is fourth in the region — trailing Marietta, McEachern and Hillgrove — heading into today’s home game with Harrison.
The Falcons’ improvement has come with a balance on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.
Junior point guard Ty Hudson is averaging 21 points, eight assists and five steals a game. Small forward Thrae Mitchell is averaging 15 points a game, and junior forward Kevin Murph averages eight points and 10 rebounds.
New to the Falcons’ roster is junior Derek Ogbeide. The 6-foot-8 big man originally from Toronto averages eight blocks a game.
The success has also led to attention from colleges. Hudson, Murph and Ogbeide all have offers from Kennesaw State.
Pebblebrook has been winning games using full-court presses, along with half-court traps to force turnovers. The Falcons’ goal is to keep opposing teams in the 50s.
Washington also rotates as many as eight to nine players to keep his team fresh in the late stages of games.
Hudson said intense practices have contributed to Pebblebrook’s preparedness and improvement.
“For the last couple of days, we’ve been in the gym for four hours working on our shots,” he said.
While Pebblebrook’s schedule includes wins over Alpharetta, North Cobb, South Cobb, Campbell and Kennesaw Mountain, Washington said the Falcons are still looking for their first signature win.
The coach added that there are also a few improvements that need to be made for Pebblebrook to reach the next level, including consistency. Washington said his players sometimes shoot particularly well in the first half, only to go cold in the second. They’re also working on playing with leads.