Four years ago when East Coweta boys basketball coach Royal Maxwell took over the struggling program, he had a vision.
He wanted to created a team that could compete against any squad in the state.
That seemed like long odds considering the Indians’ track record over the past seasons.
He also knew the Indians were going to struggle early since part of his master plan was to playing younger players and let them develop.
The Indians went 5-22 that first season, 14-12 the second season and 13-13 last season.
This year, Maxwell’s plan has come together as the squad is putting together the best season in school history.
The Indians waltzed through the campaign with a school best 24-1 overall record and a region championship that included a 9-1 record.
All the success has earned East Coweta a No. 3 ranking in the most recent Maxprep poll.
East Coweta has already clinched a spot in the Class 7A state tournament, but there is still more work to do.
Starting tonight a 6 p.m. at Campbell High School, the Indians play 10th-ranked Wheeler in the Region 2-7A semifinals.
Wheeler brings a 16-10 overall record into the contest. The Wildcats finished 5-5 in league play.
East Coweta hasn’t lost since December 4th when it suffered its only setback of the season, falling on the road to Pebblebrook 63-60.
The Indians enter the game averaging 78 points per contest while giving up just 66 points per game.
East Coweta has spread the offensive wealth among a collection of players.
Senior Fermandez Jones has been a four-year starter for the Indians and comes into the game averaging 19 points per contest.
Chris Youngblood is averaging 16.3 points per contest and Brandon Stroud is averaging 16.2 points per game.
Zac Hill is scoring just over eight points per game.
In the two regular season contests, East Coweta and Wheeler battled to the finish before the Indians pulled out a pair of victories.
In the first game at East Coweta, the Indians won 81-78.
Wheeler led 37-33 at the half and extended the lead to 60-58 in the second half.
East Coweta pulled out the victory by outscoring the Wildcats 23-18 in the fourth quarter.
Jones led the Indians with 26 points with Stroud scoring 21.
In the second meeting, East Coweta won 71-66 with four players finishing in double figures for the Indians.
Youngblood led the way for the Indians with 24 points. Stroud added 17. Jones and Hill had 10 each.
East Coweta earned a bye into tonight’s region semifinals and hasn’t played since beating Newnan 73-63 in the regular-season finale.
Wheeler is coming off a 60-46 victory over Campbell in the first round of the region tournament.
The victory over Campbell snapped the Wildcats’ four-game losing streak.
Wheeler’s losing streak started with the loss to East Coweta and also included losses to Westlake, Gonzaga of Washington D.C. and Pebblebrook.
The winner of tonight’s game plays the winner of the Pebblebrook-Westlake game in Saturday’s championship.
Westlake beat Newnan 68-55 to open the tournament.