SHERANDO PREVIEW

Sherando’s Aaron Banks, left, and T.J. Washington, right, defend Millbrook’s Isaac Brown in a game last season. The Warriors are off to a late start due to the football team’s success this season. Sherando opens its season on Wednesday at Brentsville.

STEPHENS CITY – Sherando boys basketball coach Garland Williams didn’t have most of his team until last week due to the football team’s playoff run. With the strong football tradition at Sherando, it’s something that Williams is used to.

Williams said the football players have momentum coming off their season and he is hopeful it leads to a good basketball season.

“For the most part, those guys that play football they bring a good, competitive, tough spirit to our team,” Williams said. “And that’s the type of play that we like.”

Seven of Sherando’s 11 basketball players were on this year’s football team. However, Williams said all of them have been part of either Sherando varsity or junior varsity programs before, so they know what to expect.

Sherando sophomore Keli Lawson, who also plays football, said that the football players already have a good relationship with each other and that he can already see it’s carrying over onto the basketball court.

“Physically-wise I just know that we’re an aggressive group,” Lawson said. “And I know that we can hang with the other teams out there. And I also see the chemistry and bond we have, especially us coming from football. And those who (didn’t play football) we’ve been keeping in touch with them through the offseason.”

One of the players who didn’t play football, senior George Gibson, said the team is happy to have everybody together again and is ready to play.

“Football’s a physically demanding sport, so we got a lot of athletes that came and joined us,” Gibson said. “So far, we all know each other pretty well. So I’m pretty excited for this year and see what we can do.”

Gibson is the team’s top-returning scorer. He averaged 10.4 points per game last season. Gibson also led the area last season from 3-point range. His 3-point shooting percentage was 41.5 percent (34-for-82).

Sherando has some other quality returners including seniors T.J. Washington, Michael Usa and Will Hall.

The Warriors have five seniors and a combined six sophomores and juniors. Gibson said that he feels good about the senior leadership and the team has high goals for the year.

“The team goal this year is to go to regionals,” Gibson said. “I think we have a good chance this year if we work hard at it. That’s always been a goal. My sophomore year we went and lost in the first round. And I’ve been talking to a couple seniors, and we want to get back there.”

Williams said that the seniors have all been in the program for three or four years and he is confident they will do a good job of leading the way.

“They know what we like to do and what we expect out of them,” Williams said. “And we hold them to high standards. And hopefully, within that group, they’ll be accountable to each other, knowing that this is the way that coach likes for us to do it. And if we need to make adjustments, this is what we need to do to make adjustments.”

The Class 4 Northwestern District will once again be tough. Williams said Handley, Kettle Run and Fauquier should be some of the top teams. He said he expects his team to be competitive in the district along with teams such as James Wood and Millbrook.

Williams said it will take time for his team to catch up after getting off to a late start, but he thinks things should start to come together for his team after the Christmas break. He said one thing he did differently this season is they didn’t play any games until all the players were there. Sherando opens play Wednesday at Brentsville.

Gibson said he is itching to get back out on the court and finally play again.

“I’m really excited,” Gibson said. “I didn’t play football. So I’ve been prepping for about a month now. And it’s the last run for us (seniors), and we want to see what we can do.”

Contact Tommy Keeler Jr. at tkeeler@nvdaily.com