A solid starting back court is crucial to a high school basketball team's success.
Traditionally, a team's guards are expected to do a majority of the dribbling and passing, with scoring and defense also on the agenda.
At Evans, head boys' basketball coach Kevin Kenny has found a trio of guards who have taken their roles to a whole new level.
The Evans back court consists of seniors Jerome Manuel and Glenn Miller and junior Brandon Durr. The trio has been together for only two years, but it's been enough for them to jell into a starting back court that has earned the title of best in Columbia County.
The Knights, led by Durr, Miller and Manuel, took the Turkey Tip-Off Tournament Championship last week at Lakeside when all four Columbia County public schools met in the two-day event. Evans won the title after defeating both Lakeside and Greenbrier.
"I've been saying it all year long," Kenny said. "I'll put up my three guards against any in the area."
Durr, a 5-foot-11-inch junior, runs the offense from the point guard position and is a major offensive threat. He's tied for tops on the team with a scoring average of 17 points per game.
"There's not a lot of people in the CSRA that can guard him," Manuel said.
With 17-point and 16-point performances in the Turkey Tip-Off last week, Durr was named tournament MVP.
"I know the ball is safe in his hands," Miller said of his teammate. "He can make those drives to the basket."
Miller, a 6-foot-2-inch senior, is the team's three-point specialist. After transferring from Augusta Preparatory Day School, Miller averaged 17 points per game, and he played a crucial role in the team's win over Glenn Hills in the 100 Black Men of Augusta Tournament last weekend at the Academy of Richmond County.
With the Knights trailing 32-26 heading into the second half, Miller rattled off three straight 3-pointers in the third quarter to claim the lead. Evans used the momentum and Miller's game-high 25 points to come away with a 61-55 victory.
At the same event, Miller competed in the 100 Black Men of Augusta three-point contest. He won the competition last year, but a late arrival at last weekend's event kept him from properly warming up. Miller still managed a 20-point score and took second place overall.
The shooting performance was no fluke.
In Evans' first five games this season, Miller has hit 14 shots from behind the arc.
"He's always been like that," Manuel said. "When we need a big bucket, Glenn always comes through from the three-point line."
Manuel, the final starting guard, doesn't have the all-star statistics of Miller and Durr. As a result, the 5-foot-10-inch senior doesn't always get his fair share of the spotlight.
The Knights, however, are quick to point out that it's Manuel's defense that has been key for the Knights this season.
"Jerome guards the best player every single night," Kenny said.
His offensive game might suffer a little because of it, but he's a leader on the team."
Manuel has still managed a 10.2 points per game average and grabbed four steals in the Knights' win over Glenn Hills.
Through all the ball-handling, scoring and defense, the Knights' back court has led the team to a 3-2 record heading into this week's play.
The early regular-season test will continue Friday when Greenbrier plays host to Evans in a rematch of the Turkey Tip-Off Championship game.
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