Looking to succeed

SHS boys basketball team heads into sectionals hopeful despite a challenging season

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Emma Main

Sophomore Keyon Miller looks to drive into the paint on a Perry Meridian defender. Perry Meridian was one of SHS’s 15 losses so far this season.

Every team faces adversity and challenges all throughout the year, but for the SHS boys basketball team, they look to make changes before starting their journey through the state tournament.

“As we get ready for sectionals, our team is still working hard and believe we can really shock people in these sectionals,” senior Griffin Thomas said.

With sectionals approaching in less than a month, the SHS boys basketball team reflects on a season full of struggles, challenges and growth.

The Cards continue their preparation for sectionals with only two games left until their regular season ends. As of Feb. 22, the Cards are 3-15. The team’s struggles this year can be attributed to many factors such as undersized players, injury, COVID-19 and schedule strength.

“When it becomes winning time, it seems we have been struggling a little bit,” head coach Eric Brand said.

With four underclassmen on the varsity roster, inexperience has proven to be a big factor in the Cards’ lack of success this year as they cannot keep up with the bigger teams. With the loss of star sophomore A.J. Dancler due to a knee injury, a player who led the team last year and averaged 16.3 points per game, this has been one of the many turns this season has taken for the team.

“A.J. is day-to-day. He is trying to work back…,” Brand said. “He has tried to go, but his knee has not responded really well, so we have shut him down.”

At the beginning of this year, the Cards showed great potential as a result of the debut of sophomore Nickens Lemba, who couldn’t play last season.

The Cards also looked to be in good shape for this year with sophomore Anthony Ball, who played a huge impact in last season’s game averaging 8.3 points per game and 8 rebounds per game. However, as the season went on, the Cards lost this key player and would have to fight through a series of difficult situations.

“It has been a year of a ton of adversity,” Brand said. “And I think one of the biggest things we’ve improved in is getting knocked down and getting back up.”

Their season started out promising, even with a few hard losses towards the beginning, but with Dancler’s injury, Lemba’s need for development and the loss of Ball, the season has not turned out to be as expected in the start.

The Cards had to face another challenge before their preseason even started. Since the beginning of last year, the Cards have lost many hours worth of scrimmages, lifting and preseason training due to COVID-19. According to assistant coach Jordan Dever, they are combating this by putting in extra work on defense and strength before they enter sectionals.

“Our younger guys just don’t have the bodies yet to handle (bigger teams),” Dever said.

Seeing as the Cards are playing with three underclassmen in their starting lineup, one player must step up into a leadership position to aid in the team’s success. Sophomore Keyon Miller has seen an extreme increase in points per game with even fewer minutes per game. As of Feb. 17, Miller has been getting around 30 minutes per game, compared to his 32 minutes last season. Even with this change in minutes, Miller has seen his points per game go from six last season to 15 this year.

For their first round of sectionals, the Cards will face off against the Roncalli Royals on March 2. However, before they get to that point they must finish their season off.

This season has been filled with challenges and adversity, but the Cards will continue to play through it.

“This year has been hard but it made us grow as players and as men because not everything goes the way you want,” Thomas said. “But we still are fighting.”