MILTON, Ga. — For the past several seasons, Cambridge boys basketball has had plenty of talent, but there were always a few names on the roster that stood out. Some of those standouts have gone on to play collegiately, such as Kamar Robertson (Mercer) and Kyler Ingram (Emmanuel College), while Matthew Cleveland transferred to Pace Academy.
The Bears (5-3, 3-1) may not have the same kind of name recognition on their roster this season, and there a host of new faces on the court, but that has not kept the team from early season success.
“This is a team that has bought into the team-first mentality,” head coach Chip Flemmer said. “We don’t have the superstar that is getting a lot of recognition, but collectively, they are a really great team.”
Offensively, Cambridge is no longer relying on a few high-output scorers. Where points are concerned, they are spreading the wealth.
“This year, we’ve usually had two consistent scorers, but the rest is scoring by committee,” Flemmer said. “We have had different guys contributing every night.”
Much of the Bears’ new offensive leaders have come from the junior varsity ranks.
One senior stepping into the varsity spotlight is senior EJ Smith. Through six games, the 6-foot-3 wing averaged 12 points and four rebounds.
“He’s a really solid outside shooter,” Flemmer said. “He’s definitely made the adjustment [to varsity play], and he’s really been working on his game. You can tell he put in a lot of hard work in the offseason.”
Leading the Bears on the offensive stat sheet is senior guard Cole Bearden, who averaged 17 points through six games while compiling 28 rebounds and 17 steals.
Behind Cambridge’s top two scorers, wings Tommy Swift, Davis Sager and Jonas Melber, senior forward Sola Adebisi and senior guard Benton Harkness have all contributed offensively.
A focus this season for the Bears has been their defense.
“In the past we tried to outscore you, we still wanted to play well defensively, but we tended to the up-and-down team that put up scores in the 80s,” Flemmer said. “This team takes so much pride on the defensive end. We’re hoping we don’t see any of those high scoring numbers in our effort to lock teams down.”
Another addition to the Bears bench has been assistant coach John Lash who comes to Cambridge from the Blessed Trinity program. Lash stepped into his new role after former assistant coach Aaron Darling took the head coach position at River Ridge.
“He’s been a great addition,” Flemmer said. “He is really taking the onus on defense and getting us to the identity of a shutdown team.”
Through six games, Cambridge has given up 57 points per game, 11 fewer per contest than their opening six last season.
Bearden is averaging three steals per game and Adebisi has caused trouble for opposition shooters with three blocks per game.
The new-look Bears will strive to continue their success in Region 7-AAAAAA play after the program captured its first region title last year. But similar to previous seasons, it is tough sledding to reach the tournament championship game.
“If anything, this region has gotten better,” Flemmer said. “Everybody is bringing something back, and you can’t take a night off.”
The Bears continue the opening portion of their region schedule through this week before traveling to Panama City Beach, Fla. for the Beach Bash Classic.