As each week passes, Glenn Hills further solidifies itself as one of the top boys basketball teams in the state.
The Spartans entered the season with high hopes and the state ranking to back it up as the No. 1 team in Class AA. After entering this week 16-0 and then picking up a big victory over rival Butler on Tuesday night to get to 18-0, confidence in that ranking is at its highest.
“I think we’re playing some pretty good basketball right now,” Glenn Hills coach Travis McRae said. “Tuesday night against Butler, five guys in double figures, defense was solid for the most part. You can always get better as the season goes along, but I think we’re playing pretty good basketball right now.”
Before Friday night’s region showdown with Laney, Glenn Hills sat 8-0 in Region 4-AA, having already defeated Laney twice, including once toward the region record, and getting past Butler twice and Josey. Four region games remain before the league tournament begins Feb. 6.
McRae said his players are doing a good job of staying grounded through the run, helped in part by the coach’s reminders that it’s not about going undefeated as much as playing well when it matters most.
He used Tuesday’s Butler matchup as an opportunity to tell them about the 2013 team that had a similar streak until the Bulldogs stopped it, and they followed by losing two of the next three and entering the playoffs on the road. A framed photo hanging in the gymnasium serves as another reminder – it shows the 2008 Class AAA state championship team and its 29-2 mark.
“I try to do a good job of telling them stories and keeping them grounded,” McRae said. “It’s not all about being undefeated. It’s about playing good basketball. There are a lot of good teams out there that have losses.”
The talent for Glenn Hills is obvious. Tim Williamson has provided a major spark since moving from Hephzibah for his senior year, while Isaiah Bauman, Timmy Sellers and John Whitehead contribute in big ways.
Aside from boasting one of the top defenses in the classification, Glenn Hills is also capable of implementing a deep roster. Eric Farmer, Jeff Cabarrus, Emmanuel Jones and Cordez Sheppard are among those able to produce at a high level at any time to complement the bigger guns, and the team realizes that by sharing the ball well.
“It’s been a great experience with this team,” Whitehead said. “I love the way we play and move the ball around. Everybody has a chance to score on this team.”
An always-competitive region can also help Glenn Hills’ efforts when the Spartans inch toward the playoffs. The undefeated run means a target has been painted on their backs, and intense road environments within the region offer tests for the senior-laden team.
Regardless of their record by the beginning of February, the Spartans are in a position to make a run in the state tournament. The pieces are in place and the chemistry is there. The maturity that comes with staying grounded through an undefeated streak also bodes well for the group.
“Teamwork, everybody is on the same page, everybody is staying focused, everybody wants to buy in and win,” Williamson said. “When you’re surrounded by others who want the same thing, we’re going to come out with the same outcome every time. We just keep working towards that.”
Reach David Lee at (706) 823-3216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.