Team Ivy returns Friday to tip off this basketball season with a home court advantage. For the first time, Ivy Preparatory Academy will host home basketball games at the Kirkwood campus in Atlanta.
The move will allow girls’ and boys’ basketball teams to build a loyal fan base in the community. It will also attract students and families to Ivy Prep from across metro Atlanta to attend games at the Kirkwood campus at 1807 Memorial Drive.
“We have redone the floors and repainted; we have risers and a new score clock,” said Terrence Waller, Athletic Director for Ivy Prep. “Having a gym for home games will be exciting for players. It will build a sense of pride for the school and community.”
Ivy Prep’s first home game is Friday against KIPP Strive. The girl’s team plays at 6:15 p.m. followed by the boys’ team at 7:15 p.m. All but one of the basketball games this season will be played in the home gym. Renovations to the gym were made with the support of Cooper-Global Chauffeured Transportation and other funding.
In addition to new gym equipment, the basketball season is also beginning with new leadership in the ranks. Waller has hired seasoned coaches to oversee basketball so that he can focus on expanding the sports program at Ivy Prep. The athletic director is planning to launch competitive tennis, soccer and baseball to increase the menu of sports available for students.
“As long as we keep having great coaches, I really want to use my time supervising and working in the back office,” Waller said. “Part of being a good leader is delegating. Our coaches are on board with building the sports programs. They take their jobs very seriously.”
The new coach for Team Ivy Gwinnett Girl’s Basketball (Gwinnett Monarchs) is Warren Wade who replaces Waller as head coach. The assistant coach for the Gwinnett Monarchs is Walt Edwards. The cheerleading coach is Nichole Wysinger.
Waller said Wade is rebuilding the Monarchs with a mix of new talent after the loss of its tournament-winning starting line up. The team lost several upperclassmen who left for high school after back-to-back tournament appearances. “I expect him to come in and tear up the ground and build a new foundation,” Waller said.
Last season, the Monarchs made it to the tournament finals for the third year in a row. They were defeated in the LukeSports Girls’ Championship tournament by the Atlanta Lady Vikings, the team they had beaten the year before to win the championship 51-36. Many of the members of the tournament-winning team are now playing high school basketball on the varsity and junior varsity level.
“The program is producing young ladies and young men who want to continue playing basketball and are having success on the court,” he said. “We are taking kids to the next level.”
Waller said that their work ethic will pave the way for more Ivy Prep basketball players to follow in their footsteps. He has invited alumni of Ivy Prep’s girls and boys basketball teams to return for home games to cheer on the new players.
This year’s Monarchs are: Lauren Edwards; Mya Matthews; Raijene Murphy; Madison Doss; Elana Taylor; Kyler Woods; Londe Hall; Jade Gordon; Janet Fasesin; Karlynn Kerry; Kenia Calderon; Taylin Williams; Alex Pearson; Daijah Figgures and Jasmine Weathersby-Alexander. Atlernates are Amara Noble and Jahayla Curry-Williams.
This year’s Kirkwood Knights are: Kenneth Johnson; Titus Hand; Justin Jackson; Jovon Howard; Tywun Daniel; Syrus Kee; Noah Evans; Javion Leek; Christopher Culbreath; Franc Spears; Travarous Alexander; Cameron Florence; Mohamad Diallo and Jimari Monro.
The Knights of Ivy Prep Kirkwood are ready for another ambitious season. The young team is building on lessons learned during their first year on the court, which ended without a victory. Waller said the Knights are focused on training and expertly executing new plays designed to bring home victories for Ivy Prep.
The head coach of the Knights is Bryan Spencer. The assistant coaches are Frank Lee and Devin Emory. The cheerleading coach is Kelsea Shull. Her assistant is Kayla Eubanks.
“The young men are doing incredibly well under the leadership of Coach Spencer,” Waller said. “He has a background in coaching Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Basketball and college basketball. He is showing the young men some things that NBA players are learning. I expect them to be able to pull off a win this year, and more importantly, create a bond amongst themselves as players.”