News and notes from the hardwood (boys edition, with the girls coming next week):
• Greenbrier High School’s boys opened the season 1-6. With the graduation of three players who were four-year contributors on the varsity program, those struggles were somewhat expected.
Since then, however, coach Casey Heckathorn’s crew has played much better. The Wolfpack has won three games in a row, six of their past seven, and are now 7-2 since their difficult start. Evidence of the turnaround is their two games with Aiken. On Dec. 3, the Hornets dealt Greenbrier a demoralizing 69-25 loss. It is never fun to lose by 44 points, but redemption had to be pretty sweet when the ’Pack stunned Aiken 53-49 in overtime just two weeks later. Talk about a turnaround.
More on Greenbrier: Last year, Thomas Brown came on strong for the Wolfpack. He rose to the occasion with several big performances, including key wins over Evans and North Augusta.
I wondered how Brown, known more for his football talent, would fare with the graduation of stars Chad Waddell and Justin Cofer. Last season, Brown was able to be a role player who was counted on to rebound and play defense. Any scoring he did was just icing on the cake. How would he handle being called on to handle more of the scoring load this season? Answer: Just fine.
Through 16 games, Brown is among the area leaders in several statistical categories. He is averaging 14 points per game, 9.1 rebounds, 2.9 blocks and 2.7 steals.
• Another hot team is Evans. The Knights handed Greenbrier one of their two losses during their recent hot stretch, and Kevin Kenny’s crew has started to pile up some wins. Evans has won four games in a row (all by double digits), eight of its past nine and 10 of 12, to give it an 11-5 mark on the season.
The backcourt duo of senior Myles McDavid and talented sophomore Damian Foreman has led the way for the Knights. They have combined to score nearly 30 points per game (McDavid 15.1, Foreman 13.0) this season.
McDavid is really coming on of late. He has been a stat-sheet stuffer for Evans. In addition to his 15 points per game, McDavid also chips in with 6.6 rebounds and 3.3 steals per game.
Another player who has been big for Evans (literally) this season is Jacob Buchanan. Because of a lack of size, the 6-2 Buchanan is being asked to fill the role of “big guy” for Evans, and he has done an admirable job, as his 11.8 points and 8.3 rebounds per game would attest.
• The Harlem Bulldogs boys team is also creating some excitement this season. After a football season that saw Harlem go winless, the town was looking for something to cheer about and Kim Chamber’s team has provided it.
This is a surprise for a program that has averaged only four wins per season over the past five years, but this season Harlem has been very competitive. During a recent stretch, the Bulldogs reeled off five wins in seven games. Led by high-scoring freshman point guard Reggie Reid, through 17 games the team is 8-9. Reid has had some help, too. Dylan Farmer, Alonzo Hill and Jonathan Hartman have provided solid support for Reid.
Harlem fans should keep this in mind: One of the premier point guards to ever play in our area was a fellow named Ricky Moore. Before helping lead the University of Connecticut to a national title and playing pro ball overseas, Moore was a four-year starter at Westside High School. Many might remember that Moore led Westside to a 33-1 record and a state title during his senior season in 1994-95.
But as a freshman, Moore also took over as the point guard of a struggling program.
Westside was just 5-23 Moore’s freshman season. Who knows what will happen at Harlem? But they have a great player to build around.
• While Evans and Greenbrier are moving in the right direction, Lakeside is in a slump. The Panthers started the season a respectable 7-4. Since then, however, the wins have been few and far between. Lakeside has lost five of its past six games, including region losses to Evans and Greenbrier, and are currently at 8-9 on the season. Lakeside did post wins over Harlem and Grovetown early in the season, so the Panthers still have a 4-2 record against county foes.
Sophomore Sam Powell has been a bright spot for the Panthers. He is averaging only eight points per game, but he also pulls down 5.9 boards per contest. He already has good size at 6-2 and is a very physical player despite his youth. If he puts in the work, Powell has a chance to be a very solid player.
• The Grovetown boys also have been struggling lately with a 5-13 mark. They were beaten Friday and Saturday by two very good teams by nearly identical scores, losing Friday to Josey 66-44, and Saturday to Silver Bluff 68-45.