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Longhorns proving game under Fultz

LINDEN — Marengo Academy’s varsity boys’ 4-3 record does little to represent just how competitive the team has been thus far this season.

Despite securing a head coach late in the fall, the Longhorns have flourished under the guidance of returning head man Billy Fultz.

Two of the squad’s losses have come in the finals of early season tournaments. The Longhorns fell to Escambia Academy before heading to Southern for a tourney in which they lost in the finals to SA.

“They always go to state and always win this region,” Fultz said of one of the benchmark teams in the AISA.

While pleased with his team’s performance thus far, Fultz was somewhat reluctant to return to coaching. He stated that his son, Thomas, played a big role in his decision. Thomas, who finished at Alabama Southern and now attends UWA, hopes to go into coaching full-time. The elder Fultz’s return gives his son a chance at some choice experience.

“I’ve got two great assistants and they’ve done a good job,” Fultz said of Thomas and assistant coach Norman Averette. “I’m really just kind of there to cross the Is and dot the Ts and put the gameplan in place.”

That gameplan has been aided by a quintet of seniors who have produced early and often. Leading the charge for the Longhorns are mainstays Matt Wallace and Chase Smyly.

“I’ve got five seniors and two sophomores. Your two main leaders would be Matt Wallace and Chase Smyly. Chase has been the leading scorer about every game,” Fultz said.

That tandem has received a boost from the emergence of senior guard Chris Sammons.

“We knew he had the ability and he had the confidence,” Fultz said of Sammons. “He was just nervous. We told him the position was his no matter what happened.”

Sammons responded by posting 26 points in a game to lead the Longhorns to a victory over South Choctaw.

The Longhorns have also seen considerable growth from Alan Flowers.

“He’s probably my third leading scorer,” Fultz said. “You talk about watching somebody blossom, it’s been a lot of fun to watch.”

“Fun” may be the operative word for Fultz, who said his return has brought more than long nights in the gym.

“I’ve got a good group of kids that is reminding me that I am a Longhorn,” Fultz said. “I kind of lost that playing pro ball and college ball.”