On Tuesday night, the Evans boys' basketball team ran its record to 20-3, the best start in school history.
The Knights have dominated Columbia County competition this season and could be a dangerous team for someone to face in the state tournament. So I do not want to look past the fact that they knocked off Greenbrier Tuesday night.
Evans had their hands full with a fired-up Wolfpack squad but managed to pull out a 50-48 victory.
Greenbrier's boys, on the other hand, have not had much to cheer about this season. Their record is a respectable 12-10 but certainly not a record-breaking campaign. Their record does not begin to tell the story of Greenbrier's team.
After last season, head coach Casey Dees had to feel pretty good about his team. They had just made a state tournament appearance, and he had basically his entire team intact for 2005-06. Greenbrier was the odds-on favorite to be top dog in Columbia County and seemed to be a definite state tourney team.
Everything began to change during the off-season.
First, Greenbrier power forward Rich Poythress made the decision to concentrate on his primary sport (baseball).
Who could blame him? He had signed to play at Georgia and was a possible big-league draft pick. Poythress would have been one of the area's premier rebounders, and he would have given the Pack some inside muscle.
Next, point guard Chris Johnson followed Poythress' lead and also gave up basketball to concentrate on the diamond. Johnson was a stabilizing feature of the Wolfpack's offense, and he would be sorely missed.
The final blow was the loss of leading scorer and Columbia County Player of the Year candidate Reggie Rice because of legal issues.
So Greenbrier would go into this season without its best scorer, rebounder and ball handler.
All are seniors who had a lot of experience and would have been the leaders of this year's squad.
Understandably, Greenbrier struggled early on. In recent weeks, however, the team has been playing terrific. Dees found himself a go-to guy in 6-4 senior Luther Holmes. Holmes provided scoring and rebounding.
Next comes freshman point guard Bryan Andrews. The talented young lefty has been fearless the past few weeks and has given the team scoring at times.
He had 13 points in the Tuesday loss to Evans. As this kid gets stronger, he will become one of the area's top point guards.
Players like Paul Jurek, Josh Dailey and Sean Gray also have stepped up since getting their expanded roles.
The key has been Dees. I firmly believe that teams take on the identity of their coach.
This Greenbrier bunch has bought in to what Dees is preaching. They came out in the Evans game with confidence; even a little swagger.
Forget that they were playing a team that was 19-3 and already had beaten them twice this season.
Each player who got minutes for the Pack gave everything he had.
Granted, they still came up short, but if I were a Greenbrier fan, I would be awfully proud of my team.
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