The winning 5

Published 12:40 am Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Red Level has had a winning season so far this year, thanks partially to the help of five seniors: D.J. Sankey, Cale Nolen, Luke Sharp, Matthew Bond and Kyle Nolen.

The No. 8 Tigers (19-6, 6-0 in Class 2A, Area 1) clinched their area last Tuesday night with their win over Flomaton, 65-64.

In that game Cale Nolen, hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to seal the win.

All five seniors have played under Red Level coach Fred Kelley for the past four years.

Each say they have learned a lot about being focused, working hard and trusting their games.

Cale Nolen, Kyle Nolen, Sankey, Sharp and Bond sat down with the sports editor for the Andalusia Star-News in an interview Tuesday before practice to discuss their experiences during the past four years.

What has it been like playing under coach Kelley for four years?

D.J. Sankey: It’s been fine. Coming up four years and I’ve had some fun. We haven’t had our best of years off of him, but coach Kelley’s made sure we are always intense.

Cale Nolen: He made sure we stayed focused.

DS: He always puts up those signs (on the wall) to make sure we are always on task.

How has Kelley helped mold you guys as basketball players?

Luke Sharp: Just like trusting in your game telling us that we can do it.

DS: To keep your confidence up.

LS: Keep your confidence up about yourself.

CN: He is always putting those signs up, (telling us) to never quit.

What is the most important thing he has taught you?

DS: To stay focused. That’s on everything.

CN: He always makes sure that we work harder than anybody else.

LS: Staying intense and managing our time. He’s a time freak, he’ll tell you.

When did you start playing basketball in life?

Most said since the first grade, but all five have been playing together since they were freshmen.

The Nolens, Sankey and Bond have been playing together since the first grade, while Sharp joined in the seventh grade.

Why do you play basketball?

CN: It’s fun and we can’t get enough of it. We also go home and play on the weekends and play during football season as well.

Where do you see yourselves in 10 years?

CN: In the MLB (major league baseball).

DS: A successful engineer making $350,000 a year, have two kids and a wife.

Matthew Bond: I would just say a successful career.

How do you feel the season has gone so far?

LS: We’ve had a good season so far.

CN: This is the best season we’ve had, but we aren’t finished.

Kyle Nolen: It’s been good the little bit I’ve played.

How has this season been different than the others?

CN: We are a lot closer. We are a lot more experienced. Last year we just kind of separated and went our own ways. This year we will talk in the hallways and at break and go out on the weekends more.

What can you say that has contributed to your success?

LS: I think it all goes back to us getting close.

DS: Knowing each other on the court.

CN: D.J. always knows what I’m going to do and I know what Luke’s going to do.

MB: We just know each other.

Kyle, how did it feel to be out on the court last Friday night?

KN: It felt great.

CN: He played a good while Monday night and about got hurt again.

What are you guys working for?

All: A state championship.

The seniors and the rest of their team will visit Straughn on Friday. Tip off is at 4:30 p.m. with the B-team.