Robbie McKenzie's year is getting better by the day.
Two months ago, the third-year coach led Silver Bluff to its first Class AA Lower State championship game. Four months from now, he and his wife, Lauren, expect their first child, a son.
"It'll make next basketball season a little bit interesting," he said.
The 27-year-old McKenzie has made Silver Bluff girls basketball plenty interesting during his reign. After leading the Lady Bulldogs to their finest season in school history, McKenzie is The Augusta Chronicle South Carolina All-Area Girls Basketball Coach of the Year.
Silver Bluff won its first 18 games and finished with a 20-3 record. The Lady Bulldogs lost to Lee Central in the Lower State championship game. Still, he took his girls to watch the Class AA state title game. They sat in the stands and looked on as spectators.
"They looked at me kind of disappointed," he said, "saying we should be there."
The Lady Bulldogs almost punched their ticket the state championship. They trailed by two with four minutes remaining before losing by eight.
Still, the season was one big success.
During McKenzie's tenure, Silver Bluff has gone from eight wins to 13 to 20. The Lady Bulldogs also finished second in Region 5-AA
McKenzie said girls basketball is one of just two sports at the school without a region title.
"Trying to turn that corner," he said. "Last year was a huge step. I think we're starting to move up that ladder a bit."
McKenzie attributed his team's success to its up-tempo play.
Silver Bluff had 11 players on the roster. All 11 played significant minutes as the team played pressure defense with a transition offense.
"We kind of had that Roy Williams philosophy," McKenzie said. "We were going to run, run and run.
"I think they loved the philosophy of just running. We worked in practice of getting the ball and getting it up the floor."
Freshman Jamie Foreman averaged 12.5 points per game. Senior Maria Dunbar posted an 11.5 average followed by sophomore center/forward Cellonda Crawford (11.0 ppg, 12.0 rpg).
But they were not the only Lady Bulldogs who could score
"It wasn't uncommon for one of the players to come off the bench and do the same," McKenzie said.
If you think this is the last of Silver Bluff, think again.
Eight Lady Bulldogs return next season, including four starters. One of them is rising sophomore center Taylor Muterspaugh (6-foot-2). Another is Crawford (5-11), who will give the team a formidable frontcourt.
The team will have its sights set on a region title and a state championship. Basketball season begins in November. For McKenzie, a Clemson graduate, it caps off a great year.
Reach Chris Gay at (706) 823-3645 or firstname.lastname@example.org