By Rickey Clardy
The 2022-23 Community Viking basketball squad missed a key element for most of its season as starting guard and playmaker Maki Fleming was out while nursing a football injury.
The Vikings only managed one win through the regular season, but with Fleming returning for the postseason, the Vikings picked up a win in the district tournament and played with a swagger that was not present during the season.
With a healthy Fleming returning for the 2023-24 season, Coach Robbie Davis of the Vikings knows the impact of having Fleming back will play a key role in the upcoming season.
“When you can get all of your guys healthy, it’s a positive that we’ve got a full allotment ready to go,” Davis said.
“It’s going to take him awhile to get back into basketball shape, but he’s fully recovered and ready to go,” Davis added. “We’re thankful for that.”
The Vikings will also look to fill in the gaps for six seniors that graduated from last season’s team.
“We’re really young,” Davis said. “Numbers-wise, we’ll dress 15 guys who are predominantly freshmen and sophomores. We have very few juniors and seniors.”
“A lot of guys that played last year were freshmen and got their feet wet in a lot of varsity games,” Davis added.
“It’s going to be a work-in-progress in understanding what we want to do and how we want to do it.”
The Vikings will be learning along the way with a short amount of time between the first practice and first game.
“We only get two weeks to practice before our first game,” Davis said. “I wish we had more time to get ready to play, so it’s going to be a lot of trial by fire.”
“We’ve got a lot of games before our first district game, so we’ll throw them out there and let them play,” Davis added.
With the new district alignment, the Vikings will move from District 7AA to 9AA. Community will have returning foes Cascade, Forrest, and Grundy County while adding Cannon County to make a 5-team District 9AA.
Instead of a region with Nashville teams and a sectional that featured teams to the east, the Vikings will move to the west in the postseason and face Summertown, Loretto, Lewis County, and Mount Pleasant in the other side of the region.
“It’s teams that we know in our district,” Davis said. “We played Cannon County home and away last season, so it’s teams that we know.”
“With a 5-team district, it just makes things better,” Davis added. “In 4-team districts, you get to automatically advance to the region, and some years that’s not a good thing.”
With a school enrollment that has increased over the last few years, the Vikings have been used to changes in their district setup.
“It’s the way it has been with every classification cycle,” Davis said. “We’ve had major changes where we went from single A to AA the one year and then they reclassified to four classifications.”
“Now the big change is our region,” Davis added.
“The only constant for us through the years has been Forrest,” Davis said. “This is my 12th year in basketball and Forrest has always been in our district. That’s the only team that’s been in our district consistently every time.”
The Vikings start off the season with Hall of Champions contests at Fayetteville and Harpeth.
Community will have 15 games under its belt before starting its district slate in early January.