Sports Day-ly: Support Local Hoops

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By Denton Day

We are officially on the homestretch of the regular season portion of this year’s basketball season. The recent snow days have impacted the scheduling to the point that some teams might have some pretty packed weeks going forward.

So far this season has been an absolute joy to watch. I would like to take this time to encourage fans, students and faculty alike to experience that joy by going and watching the Bedford County teams play.

Jefferson Forest, Liberty, Staunton River and Smith Mountain Lake Christian Academy (SMLCA  technically falls outside of Bedford County but they’re close enough to be added into this list) all have pretty solid teams this year.

Last week I had a front row seat to watch the Minutemen and Golden Eagles go toe-to-toe. At that point Liberty had just one win on the season and were coming off a viscous beat down at the hands of Jefferson Forest.

Many likely thought that Golden Eagles would deliver a similar result. But they didn’t. Liberty pulled off a massive upset over a very good Staunton River team.

The game was played on Martin Luther King Jr. Day so the students were not in school prior to the game. Because of this it would have been easy for students to stay home and not attend the game.

But the game was packed. Liberty had a great showing from their student section. Staunton River had a great showing from their student section. Parents and members of the community were in attendance. That game had the feel of a big time game. It was awesome.

A tight game down the stretch, everybody in the gym was on the edge of their seat. With every basket the anticipation grew for what was coming next. When the final buzzer sounded the Liberty fans erupted and the joy across all of the Minutemen’s faces was contagious.

I began to wonder, why aren’t all of the games like this?

I still consider myself very new to Bedford County so I’ll admit my knowledge of Bedford County sports history is still growing. I’ve recognized–and have had a few people tell me–that football comes first here. Which is great, I love football. My love for football is what sparked my interest in this line of work.

But football is a fall sport at the high school level. When winter comes around it’s basketball season. As a community I think it is time that we give the basketball players some love.

Simply put, there are some wickedly talented basketball players in this area. Each of the teams that we cover on a weekly basis have players that can do great things with the ball in their hands.

Watching Jefferson Forest’s Jordan Richeson catch a lob in transition and throw down a massive alley-oop is exhilarating. The Cavaliers team has simply gone ballistic since competing in the K-Guard Classic this winter break. On Jan. 20 they picked up their fifth consecutive win, making them undefeated in 2018.

The Golden Eagles might have the most explosive guard combo in the entire state with Kalip Jones and Josh Thomas. Both guys have unlimited range and the capability of exploding at any given moment. Jones had a 19-point quarter on Dec. 20 against Jefferson Forest. He could not miss. It was nuts.

Add to that the incredible athleticism of Grayson Overstreet on defense. The collective “OOOOOH” that can be heard as Overstreet leaps and swats the ball into the third row of the bleachers is a moment that everyone should experience.

Liberty’s record might not jump off the page at you but if you watched the team at the beginning of the season and watched them now you would see two completely different teams.

Their two big guys, Roman Ridley and Derius Moore, are the high school equivalent to the New Orleans Pelicans pairing of Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. Both Ridley and Moore can beat defenders off the dribble and play with their back to the basket on offense. On defense they own the glass and protect the rim as well as anyone.

The Ospreys of Smith Mountain Lake Christian Academy fall outside the realm of the almighty VHSL so they won’t ever matchup against teams in the Seminole or Blue Ridge District. But that team has some shooters, and shooters shoot.

That program is still very new and essentially being built from the ground up by Athletic Director and boys Head Coach Chris Madden. Madden got the year going by winning new uniforms from 323 Sports and they are without a doubt the best uniforms that anyone they play this season will have.

Trever Keaton is a lights out shooter from three-point land. William Keep and Thomas Dean are both walking double-doubles.

Don’t think we forgot about the ladies teams. There’s no doubt that there is a big style difference between boys and girls basketball. That doesn’t make girls basketball “bad” as people like to say it is.

The girls’ ability to play suffocating defense on a night in and night out basis is inspiring. It’s something that I think all young basketball players, girl or boy, need to watch. And lucky for you Jefferson Forest, Liberty and Staunton River all put that defense on display.

The student athletes work their butts off to balance school and athletics. Showing support for each team as the postseason approaches could do wonders for the community and could help pave the way for the younger players that will soon be in their spot.

You know that New Year’s resolution that you had and probably gave up on already? Congratulations I have a new one for you! Go watch and support your local high school basketball team. All signs are pointing to a very fun postseason.