I have been singing the praises of Greenbrier High School's boys basketball team since last season.
It was not like I was going out on a limb. The Wolfpack returned three starters and began the season with a 5-1 record.
However, the 'Pack followed up their solid start by dropping three of their next four games. All of the sudden, they were 6-4 and appeared to be headed to another mediocre finish.
Well, there has been a change of plans for Casey Heckathorn's crew. Greenbrier has stepped up in the past couple of weeks, having won five consecutive games.
After closing out 2010 with wins over Washington-Wilkes and Cross Creek, the 'Pack started 2011 with three difficult games: an athletic Hephzibah squad, an Evans team that has had Greenbrier's number the past two seasons, and a North Augusta team that beat the Wolfpack by 20 in December.
First, the 'Pack took care of Hephzibah with a confidence-building 62-58 win. Next up was a home date with rival Evans. Greenbrier came out hot, as point guard Justin Cofer drained three early 3-pointers as the 'Pack surged to an early lead they would never relinquish in a 69-62 victory.
Cofer led the way with 19 points, Chad Waddell posted 18, and fellow senior Dejon Britton had 13.
As good as Greenbrier's "Big 3" were, the key to the game was a player off the bench.
Junior forward Thomas Brown was terrific vs. the Knights. Every time Evans appeared to be making a run, Brown would snatch a key rebound or get a put-back bucket. He finished the game with 12 points and 11 rebounds. The 6-foot-4 Brown had a monster one-handed dunk in the first half that seemed to energize the crowd, and also seemed to give him a confidence boost he carried through to the second half.
He followed up his performance against Evans with another solid effort in the 'Pack's big win over North Augusta. However, the night belonged to Waddell, who poured in a career-high 29 points. Waddell is the 'Pack's leading scorer, averaging 17 points per game.
But as he did in the Evans game, Brown came up with a crowd-pleasing dunk, got several key put-backs, and helped Greenbrier on the glass as the 'Pack held off a good North Augusta team in a 70-58 win that improved Greenbrier to 11-4 on the season, and gave it its fifth win in a row.
Brown might never evolve into a star player on the hardwood.
In fact, his future is clearly on the gridiron, where he is a Division I prospect at safety. But he knows his role on the team and seems content to do his part. With his long wing span and leaping ability, he will be a key performer for the 'Pack the rest of the season.
Grovetown girls are fourth in state poll
In the latest gasports.com state basketball poll, the Grovetown Lady Warriors come in at No. 4 in the Class AAA rankings. Led by star center Ebony Wells, Grovetown is off to a 13-1 start.
The Warriors are just about set to tackle the toughest part of their schedule, but thus far they have looked terrific.
Wells opened the season with 25 points and 13 rebounds in a win over Lakeside and hasn't looked back. The 6-foot-3 standout committed to Georgia Tech as a sophomore, but has opened her recruiting back up and also is considering Georgia, Miami, Florida State and South Carolina.
Wells has keyed a Warriors squad that is among the best in the state defensively. Grovetown has not allowed more than 50 points in a game this season, and has yielded fewer than 40 points in 11 of its 14 games.
The team is riding a 12-game winning streak, and during that stretch it has allowed more than 38 points only once and has held opponents in the 20s five times.
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