STEPHENS CITY - George Gibson played on Sherando’s junior varsity squad both his freshman and sophomore years and the last two years it’s paid off in a big way for him and the Warriors.

The Sherando senior said his time on the junior varsity team was beneficial to him and his success at the varsity level.

“Nothing replaces game time experience,” Gibson said. “My sophomore year on JV I played really well. I never really went out. So by the time my junior year rolled around I was ready to go for varsity. I’m a huge fan of the JV coach here, coach (Ryan) Whittle. On JV it was so much fun. We got a lot better. We played some pretty good teams on JV. So it was still good competition. The game experience I got my sophomore year is what helped more than anything else.”

Gibson had a stellar junior season on varsity. He averaged 10.4 points and three rebounds per game. He also shot 45.4 percent (89-for-196) from the field.

One game last season stood out to Gibson. He said he started last season off a little slow, but on Dec. 15, 2017, Gibson got his first start and made the most of it.

“We played Millbrook and (Sherando boys basketball) coach (Garland) Williams was experimenting with the lineup,” Gibson said. “He put me in the starting lineup, and I ended up playing pretty well. I had 15 points. So the rest of the year I was in the starting lineup and got a lot of experience, especially crunch time situations, which is something I really appreciate because this year with us being a relatively young team we don’t have a lot of experience at the end of games. So that’s something I bring to the team I think.”

He led the area in 3-point shooting last season and is leading the way again this year. Gibson shot 41.5 percent (34-for-82) from 3-point range last year.

The 6-foot-2 Gibson said his freshman year he played center before moving to forward. Last year he made a move to guard and began working more and more on his shot.

Gibson said around Christmas break last season he began coming to practice 30 minutes early and leaving 30 minutes late to get more shots up, and the extra work has made him a better shooter.

“I got with coach Williams and got him to show me some drills,” Gibson said. “But it was all just the time that I put in. I’d just shoot over and over and over again, and now the muscle memory is there. And so now all I have to do is look at the basket and shoot. One of my favorite feelings in the world is when I shoot a 3 and you see it go through the net.”

This season Gibson is shooting 42.3 percent (30-for-72) from 3-point range this season. He’s also averaging 11 points and shooting 47.6 percent (39-for-62) from the field.

Gibson has not only played at shooting guard, but he has also had to play at point guard some this season as well and also plays in the post some. Williams said Gibson’s versatility has been big for the squad.

“He’s more of a guard for us, but we have to put him down as a forward sometimes,” Williams said. “And he’s mainly a wing guard or a two  guard, but there’s times when we say ‘hey you got to be a point guard.’ So he’s been that type of player for us. And for the most part has done a fairly good job with that this year.”

One area where Williams said Gibson has been instrumental to the team is his leadership. Gibson said he’s trying to be more of a leader and help out the younger players.

“Some of the stuff I learned from the guys that are older than me I like to pass on to the younger guys because we have a really young team this year,” Gibson said. “I think we have five sophomores and one of the things that I really like to do is leave my mark not only on the court but in the locker room. Because to me that’s the most important thing is it’s bigger than basketball, especially in high school. Coach Williams always talks about that and how we learn life skills. And that’s one of the things that I’ve always talked to the guys about is the things you do on the court and not taking shortcuts and things like that, you get in those good habits now, and that will help you the rest of your life even once high school is done.”

Gibson said he’s not only a leader for the basketball team but also for Sherando’s marching band. Being a part of the band has been important to Gibson, who plays the trumpet, and he said he’s learned a lot from both basketball and being in the band.

“I think basketball and band have both helped me with being a better person like out of the auditorium and off the court,” Gibson said. “It’s also helped me manage my priorities, perform under pressure stuff like that. Stuff that I’ll take away when I’m done with high school. Playing the trumpet’s been super fun. Luckily, I work pretty hard at it. I’ve been pretty good. I’ve had a solo in marching band twice. It’s been super fun. I’ve really enjoyed it.”

Gibson said due to playing in the band he had to show up late for a couple of basketball games last year and couldn’t play in a game earlier this season due to a band performance. Gibson said the other members of the band are also like teammates to him from basketball and he tries to divide his time between the two activities as best as he can.

The Warriors are 8-11 this season with a young squad. Sherando started off 2-5 then won five games in a row, but have lost six of their last seven contests.

Gibson said the goal for the team is to make regionals and to finish the season strong.

Gibson said knowing this is his last season has pushed him to do as well as he can. He said he knows these are his final games and he wants his senior year to be one to remember.

“For me, this is the last time I’m going to play a competitive sport,” Gibson said. “And I want, when my kids ask me in 20 years what my (basketball career) was like, especially my senior year, I want the answer to be really good. Like ‘oh we went on runs. We surprised people.’ Because that’s something I’ve always dreamed of ever since I started playing in first grade.”

Contact Tommy Keeler Jr. at tkeeler@nvdaily.com