Titans off to hot start

Towers David Manigo

It has been six years since the Towers High School boys’ basketball team made the state playoffs.

In 2012, the Towers Titans finished the regular season 20-8 and advanced to the second round of the playoffs. The Titans have a 29-89 record from 2013 to 2017. This season, the Titans are off to a hot start under second-year head coach Hasan Vanegas with an 8-3 record following the Tucker High School Shoot-Out Classic Dec. 29.

The team went 3-0 in the tournament, including wins against Chamblee (7-7) and Stockbridge (10-4). Vanegas said the team’s success in the tournament was a big confidence booster for his players.

“Stockbridge is a really good team and they were on a roll, as well as Chamblee—they had won their Christmas tournament the week before and we beat them,” Vanegas said. “We are an undersized team and it was big for us knowing that just because [other teams such as Stockbridge] are bigger than us, nobody is going to play harder than us.

“It was a good win leading into our region play,” Vanegas added. “We have a couple of tough challenges; a couple of teams we haven’t beaten in some years that we want to take a good shot at.”

Although this is his second year as head coach, this is Vanegas’ fourth year with the program. He was the junior varsity [JV] coach for two years before being promoted to head coach. Prior to moving to Towers, the Clark Atlanta University graduate was the junior varsity coach at Columbia High School for a year.

Vanegas said when he took over the program, he stressed the importance of playing defense.

“We make sure that we’re tight defensively,” he said. “I tell them all the time, if you’re playing defense you’ll have a lot more leeway on offense.”

Vanegas said Towers has always had talented basketball players—such as senior center David Manigo, who is averaging a double-double—but said the talent was not being used.

“I don’t think we have that much more talent here than previous years, but [the current players] are playing together, they have played together,” he said. “I do have the luxury of having four seniors who have been with me [since] I was the JV coach, so I have been coaching them for four years and that does help. But I don’t think Towers has lacked talent over the years, they just might have lacked the talent of playing together with a purpose.”

As the Titans enter their region schedule, Vanegas said his team has a good chance at finishing as one of the top teams in Region 4-AAA and making the playoffs.

“[We] try not to put the cart in front of the horse, but I think we have a good chance,” he said. “We just have to continue to do what we’re doing. [The playoffs] are a goal I set for myself and the team set for themselves at the beginning of the year. We’re on the right track. We have to make sure we keep playing the same kind of basketball we’ve been playing, improving and making sure we get better down the line and making sure we’re ready when that time comes.”

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