High School Basketball

Bryant steps down as coach of Whale Branch girls basketball team

sfastenau@beaufortgazette.comMarch 13, 2014 

Whale Branch Early College High School girls basketball coach Wilbert Bryant has stepped down but will remain at the school in an administrative role.

Bryant, 65, coached the Warriors each of the program's four seasons. Whale Branch won the Region 5-A title in Bryant's final two years.

The Warriors were eliminated by Hemingway in the second round of the Class 1-A playoffs.

"You know how it is when a father has his daughters grow up, and he has to cut them loose, let them go -- that's what I feel like I'm doing right now," Bryant said. "Let them get to the height they can get at."

Bryant will remain as an assistant athletics director helping oversee spring sports. He will help athletics director Carlos Cave with game supervision and has volunteered to help wherever needed, short of coaching, Cave said.

"We feel like moving forward he's placed our program on a rock-solid foundation," Cave said.

Cave plans to post the vacancy on websites for the S.C. High School League, the S.C. Basketball Coaches Association and the Beaufort County School District, and he expects candidates from throughout the country. He hopes to hire a coach by spring break in April.

Bryant was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2012. He said follow-up exams showed he is cancer-free.

Before Whale Branch, Bryant coached the Battery Creek High School girls four seasons and was a longtime assistant to former Battery Creek boys basketball coach John Drafts, now the athletics director.

Bryant, who has been retired from teaching since leaving Battery Creek, said he plans to spend more time in his yard and garden, and with his part-time business as a disc jockey.

The Warriors finished 20-4 in 2012-2013, were undefeated in region play and reached the third round of the Class 3-A playoffs. They took a hit before the playoffs this year when post player Jonae Riley tore ligaments in her knee and was lost for the season.

Bryant said he is encouraged by what the Warriors have coming back. All-state guard Kemoni Jenkins, Riley and post player Shaniqua Johnson are among the players Whale Branch should return for its first season in Class 2-A.

"We're headed in the right direction," Bryant said.

Follow reporter Stephen Fastenau at twitter.com/IPBG_Stephen.

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