Greenbrier High School completed the 2009-10 regular boys basketball season with a 12-12 record overall and 5-8 in Region 2-AAAAA. Neither mark is cause for fanfare, but a closer look at this year's team should create some excitement for Wolfpack fans.
First off, Greenbrier is playing in a region loaded with top-notch teams, including a Newton squad that is 23-1. Next, the 'Pack is playing under first-year head coach Casey Heckathorn. Also, keep in mind that it has been an emotional season following the death of former Greenbrier star Eric Marshall in April.
Then, throw in that Greenbrier returns virtually every key contributor next season, and 2010-11 could be a big year for the 'Pack. At press time, Greenbrier still has the 2009-10 postseason to play, but it is hard not to look ahead to next season.
There are plenty of reasons fans might be anticipating a banner year next season for Greenbrier. The 'Pack went 6-2 versus county foes this season, with a one-point loss to Evans and a three-point loss to Lakeside, both of whom they beat this season.
Also, they will move back to AAAA, playing in a sub-region that consists of Evans, Lakeside, Effingham County, South Effingham and Statesboro.
Then, you must take a look at how their season has gone this year. In addition to their solid mark in the county, they also have gotten better as the season has gone on. Just take a look at how much better they played a few opponents in Region 2-AAAAA:
School - First meeting - Second meeting
M.L. King - Lost 69-50 - Won 54-50
Stephenson - Lost 72-61 - Won 76-73
Union Grove - Lost 59-56 - Won 55-50
Newton - Lost 77-45 - Lost 62-52
Newton was 13-0 in the region, and outscored its opponents by an average of 17.2 points per game; it won by 10 points or less only three times all year.
Those who follow Greenbrier sports closely might have been anticipating the 2010-11 season three years ago. That is when then-Greenbrier coach Casey Dees started three freshmen who all showed some promise. Those freshmen now form one of the area's best trios.
And the good news for Coach Heckathorn: They are all back for their senior season next year. The trio is led by point guard Justin Cofer, who runs the team and is equally adept at taking the ball to the hole or knocking down a 3-pointer.
Cofer poured in 25 points and dished out six assists as Greenbrier knocked off Evans last week. He is averaging more than 12 points per contest, and more importantly is among area leaders in assists (5.6 per game) and steals (2.8 per game). He is shooting 70 percent from the free-throw line and 41 percent from 3-point land.
While Cofer is the leader, junior small forward Dejon Britton is perhaps the most talented. Britton is arguably the county's most improved player, although Evans High's Troy Griffith would not be a bad choice either. Britton tops the 'Pack in scoring, averaging 15.6 points per game, and rebounding, hauling in nine boards per contest.
Finally, there is the steady play of junior guard Chad Waddell, who is the 'Pack's top long-range bomber and is averaging 13 points per game. He is easily among the area's best from beyond the arc. For the season, Waddell leads the county in 3-pointers made with 48. He is knocking down 41 percent of his 3-point attempts.
Cofer, Britton and Waddell are the keys to the 'Pack's efforts on the hardwood, but they do have some help. Junior guards Trey Lawhorn and D.J. Tyson also play key roles. Lawhorn is averaging nearly four assists per game, and Tyson gives Greenbrier an excellent outside shooter off the bench. Also in terms of next season, a pair of 6-foot-3 sophomores, Fisher Wright and Thomas Brown, could play key roles.
So, come next season, Greenbrier just might be one of the favorites in Region 2-AAAA.
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