The Grovetown Warriors boys basketball players became a team during summer camp. Before that, coach Casey Dees had a collection of individuals who were brought together from different schools and wary of each other.
The Warriors attended camp at Georgia College & State University, and the players roomed with a teammate they didn't previously know. By the time camp was over, the bonds had been forged.
"We felt bad, because we wouldn't see each other for a whole month," junior Denzell Garrett said. "Now we're back together again."
Said teammate Xavier Crain: "We couldn't wait for the season to start."
First-year Grovetown opened its inaugural season Friday at Newton County, a foe Dees knew from playing in its region last season as Greenbrier's coach. The Warriors make their debut in the area Dec. 1 at Greenbrier.
Thirty varsity and junior varsity players participated in Grovetown's summer schedule, down from the almost 70 who tried out, Dees said.
The final group includes players from Harlem, Greenbrier, Richmond Academy and some who were overseas. At a recent practice, Dees said the Warriors were forging their own identity.
"That's something we're trying to get away from, is where we all came from," Dees said. "It's more important where we're at."
Crain said the Warriors' identity would be built on hustle, with running as a penalty in many of the drills the team does in practice. After missed layups, the team does push-ups.
"We got a lot of speed -- a lot of speed and do a lot of conditioning," Crain said. "We won't get tired. If we do get tired, we got people coming in."
Dees said the list of those who should contribute goes 12 deep. The challenge is ensuring they play together.
"We're trying to come together as a team, getting our plays down, pretty much turning ourselves into one unit," said Justin Lane. "All we're doing now is perfecting them so it's second nature."
Grovetown's girls face similar challenges.
First-year Grovetown coach Jamie Echols, like Dees, has good numbers. The Warriors girls have some pieces from last season's Harlem team, including senior Chade Martin.
Junior Ebony Wells, who committed this year to play basketball for Georgia Tech, likely will miss the season while recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
But Echols is confident his remaining players will be able to compete in Region 3-AAAA. He said his 12 varsity players would all play significant minutes.
"We've spent a lot of time working on our transition game," he said. "We'd like to be able to be a fast team and push the ball up the court and press a little bit."
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.