Mario Mincey has been a strong, consistent courtside presence with the Bryan County girls basketball program for 17 seasons.
And the coaching veteran has another strong squad this season as Bryan County enters the Region 3-A Division I tournament set to be played at Metter High this week as the No. 1 seed.
Bryan County is riding a seven-game win streak after a victory over visiting Southeast Bulloch on Friday. BC is 22-3 overall and 11-0 in region play and the team in ranked No. 10 among Class A Division I teams in the state by Sandysspiel.com.
Mincey is closing in on 300 wins for his career and should reach the plateau early next season. He’s led Bryan County to its third consecutive 20-win season, and the future is looking bright with just one senior, standout guard Kayley Wedlow, on the roster this season.
Coaching and sports run in the Mincey family. His father, Norris, was a lifelong youth sports coach who ended up leading teams at Claxton High. His uncle, Tony Welch, is the head boys basketball coach and athletic director at Jenkins. Mincey’s daughter, Layla Mincey, is an up-and-coming basketball star currently playing as an eighth grader at Bryan County Middle School.
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Mincey has a coaching philosophy that a different approach is needed depending on a player’s personality and he develops excellent relationships with his players.
This season, Bryan County is led by Wedlow, the senior guard who recently reached the 1,000 point milestone for her career, and junior forward Ashanti Brown.
Wedlow is averaging a team-high 17.3 points, with six rebounds, 3.6 assists and 3.2 steals per game. Brown is a gritty player who is averaging 13.9 points, 12.5 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per contest.
“Kayley (Wedlow) understands exactly what we’re asking of her,” Mincey said of the guard, who transferred in from Statesboro High as a junior. “She can score when we need her to, and her defense gets our offense started.
“Ashanti (Brown) is a kid who likes to do the dirty work. She’s the type of player who you can push as a coach, and she’s going to respond. She’s a workhorse for us.”
The team is focused on implementing Mincey’s game plan, which is focused on developing student athletes on and off the court.
“I see my role as rebounding, working in the post and bringing energy when we need it,” Brown said. “I think if we put our mind to it, we can go far in the playoffs.
“Coach Mincey has a huge impact with us,” she said. “He has great scouting reports that prepare us and focuses on defense. He’s always on us, and he’s not like any coach I’ve ever had before.”
Wedlow echoed her teammate’s assessment of Mincey.
“Coach Mincey is like a father figure to all of us,” Wedlow said. “When it comes to basketball, he’s always talking about playing as a team. But with Coach Mincey, it’s always bigger than basketball. He cares about us as student athletes and who we are as people.”
Dennis Knight covers sports for the Savannah Morning News. Contact him at Dknight@savannahnow.com. Twitter: @DennisKnightSMN