Charlie Williams looks to lead Lanett to state title

Published 11:00 am Saturday, February 25, 2023

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Lanett head coach Charlie Williams took over the girls’ program in 2016 and immediately made it successful with three straight state semifinal appearances.

Williams is a Lanett native who is familiar with the basketball program.

Williams was an assistant coach for the boys under the legendary Richard Carter until he took over the girls team in 2016.

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Williams explained how he found instant success with the Panthers.

“It’s just the kids buying in,” Williams said.

“Any time you want your program to be successful, the kids have to buy in. If they don’t buy in, I don’t care if it’s Pat Summit or Dawn Staley, you’re not going to be successful. They bought in to my vision.”

William also explained how he got the girls to buy in immediately.

“I was on the boys side, and we won three straight championships,” Williams said.

“They saw the rings I had. They knew that if they listened to me, they could get to that part.”

Williams was an assistant boys coach from 2012-2016.

He’ll now prepare to lead the Lanett girls to their first ever state championship.

Williams feels like his team needs to win the title.

“We have to get it done,” Williams said.

“Our program is to the point where we’re either going to be mentioned as one of the elites in the state or a team that just gets there. We were really young my first year. We got hot at the end of the season and just rode the wave all the way back to Birmingham. Last year, Pisgah was just a better team. They had snipers. They taught us how to play basketball in Birmingham. This year, I think we have the experience of winning a close game. It has to be our year.”

Williams feels like his team is right up there with the best teams in the state.

“Everyone who’s in Birmingham is the best of the best,” Williams said.

“I feel like we can match up with anyone. We have to adjust our lineups, but we’re always going to be the biggest team on the court.”

The Lady Panthers are able to play their entire roster and still win, and Williams feels like the team chemistry is good enough.

“One problem I don’t have on this team is that all the girls want to win,” Williams said.

“They don’t care if they play one minute or 20 minutes. They just want to win. There are always going to be times where they just want to contribute, but sometimes, it’s just not their time to contribute. When you get your chance to contribute, make it count. That’s one thing I love about this team. I don’t have a lot of ‘Why am I not playing?’ They decide how much they play. If they’re hot at the time, I roll with it. A lot of times it depends on the matchup. A lot of times we’ll be playing someone who’s using four guards and one big. I’m mainly having to play smaller lineups.”

Williams also knows Cold Springs is going to be one of the toughest teams on their schedule.

“They’re the number one team in the state,” Williams said.

“They shoot the ball extremely well. They’re not extremely deep, but their coach has won several state championships. They’re no strangers to this.”

Although Cold Springs can shoot, Williams knows his team can do a good job of shutting them down.

“We have to work hard on defense,” Williams said.

“It’s about communicating on defense more than anything. We’re doing a really good job when you look at how many threes their making. A lot of times we play great defense, but they make threes. Basketball  is a game of runs.”

Lanett is able to get production from its seniors as well as underclassmen.

“They know how the younger players feel when it comes to playing time,” Williams said.

“They know about making their turn count. Everyone is locked in.”