BENTON, Tenn. — Seeing his Polk County boys' basketball team become successful has been special for coach Rusty Brewer. Seeing his nephew be a primary reason for that success only compounds his delight.
Four seasons after going 2-25 in Brewer's first year, the Wildcats are 12-13 overall with a 6-2 mark and a second-place District 5-AA finish behind Sequoyah. In addition, he was named coach of the year and nephew Logan Brewer, a 6-foot-6 senior post, was the district's player of the year.
Alex Akins and Andrea Ragona also were named to the all-district team for Polk.
The Wildcats will face McMinn Central in the district tournament semifinals Friday at McMinn County High School. Both teams are assured of region tournament slots from the five-team league, but the winner will get to host a region game.
"We've always had the potential, but we're finally just putting it together this year," Logan Brewer said. "We've been expecting this success for the past two years. We had a good chance last season but couldn't finish some games. This year we're doing a little better."
Both uncle and nephew admit their coach-player relationship has been difficult at times.
"I think that I coach him different. I'm a little tougher than I am on somebody else that might have done the same thing," Rusty said. "I think it's because I realize his potential and I want him to be successful. He's made tremendous improvement over the past few seasons. He's always had skill, but he's worked on that and done a lot more than what we require to get better.
"He brings an ability of scoring both inside and out, and he can put people in a bad situation because he can score in the paint and he's also one of our top shooters from the perimeter. He can pose problems for people because of his versatility scoring offensively."
The younger Brewer averaged 15.9 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.5 blocked shots per game through the regular season.
"It would be awesome to go deeper into the tournament," he said. "We've seen the girls do it a lot. I think we've been underestimated some because we've always been known as a football school, but I think we can play with anybody if everybody on our team brings it.
"We want to prove teams wrong. They might think that it's a joyride or we're an easy opponent, but we just want to prove them wrong on the scoreboard."