Experienced McKay brings versatility to Warriors

Sherando's Matt McKay looks to pass as he gets backcourt pressure from Spotswood's Michael Hunter during the Jan. 17 game in Stephens City. McKay is one of four seniors on Sherando's team this season, and he has been one of the team's top scorers. Rich Cooley/Daily

STEPHENS CITY — Matt McKay is in his third year on Sherando’s varsity boys basketball team. This year his experience and versatility are showing and paying off for the Warriors.

The senior can do a little bit of everything on the court for Sherando.

“He’s been progressing each year,” Sherando boys basketball coach Garland Williams said. “And that’s what we ask for our basketball players. He’s done some things that he needed to do to get better each year.”

Williams said McKay made the varsity team as a sophomore, and they thought he would be coming off the bench. However, McKay played his way into the starting lineup.

Williams said the 6-foot-2 forward plays in the post even though he’s sometimes undersized for the position.

“Is he a true post player? No, but he’s the biggest guy we have,” Williams said. “And we put him in the post and he’s been doing a good job there. He’s been doing a good job and still improving each day and each practice.”

Williams said McKay has also improved his 3-point shooting. McKay is averaging 9.9 points and 4.1 rebounds per game for the Warriors this season.

McKay said one thing that has helped him over the years has been playing Amateur Athletic Union basketball for the Winchester Rising Stars.

“It’s just a good experience,” McKay said of playing AAU. “You get to play more, get used to pressure in the games. You’re traveling around a lot. So you’re playing a lot of different people. It’s not the same competition.”

McKay said he has played on the Winchester Rising Stars with some of his Sherando teammates, Tad Dean and Aaron Banks.

McKay, Dean, Banks and Michael Perry are Sherando’s only seniors, and McKay said they are all close.

“I played with Aaron (Banks) and Mike (Perry) and Tad (Dean) for a long time,” McKay said. “Shoot, I’ve known Tad since kindergarten. It’s kind of nice growing up together and playing, So we kind of know what each other likes to do. And we can find each other with a wide-open shot or a good pass.”

McKay said he tries to play as much as basketball as he can in the offseason. McKay said he went to a basketball camp a few years ago and got to meet his basketball idol — NBA star Steph Curry.

McKay said he went to a Steph Curry Under Armour basketball camp in Concord, North Carolina. The 6-foot-3 Curry, who plays for the Golden State Warriors, is McKay’s favorite player.

McKay said that they divided up into groups and had a free-throw shooting contest. The winner of each group went up against Curry. McKay said that he won in his group, but lost to Curry.

“I liked it a lot,” McKay said of the experience. “Meeting him and just looking at him, I’m like he’s not that much bigger than me. It just shows you that you don’t have to be real big or real fast. It’s just about your heart and if you want to win.”

The Warriors got off to a slow start this season. Sherando’s playoff run in football played a part in the start, but the Warriors have found their groove lately.

Sherando has won four of its last six games, including a win over Class 3 powerhouse Spotswood last week.

McKay said he thinks the Warriors are playing their best basketball right now.

“I think since the beginning of the season we’ve come together a lot,” McKay said. “We’re figuring each other out and just being more of a team. That’s why I’m looking forward to the rest of the season, because I’m kind of happy with what we got now.”

McKay said he plans to attend the U. S. Air Force Academy next year, so this will be his last year playing basketball.

McKay said he wants to do everything he can to make it a great final season.

“It’s my senior year, I’m just trying to make the most of it and have fun,” McKay said. “Because after this I’ll be done, and I’ve been doing it all my life.”