Following a phenomenal seventh grade season last year where the Johnson County Boys Basketball team went undefeated in their conference, coaches Brad Reece and Larry Grindstaff are already gearing up for what could be another strong run. The first real preview of what may be in ahead for the Longhorns came after a trip to Daniel Boone to take part in a very successful summer basketball camp.
Both seventh and eight grade teams attended, and although the spotlight is now on the older boys, the new faces on the court were just as eager to prove their talent. Coach Reece, who typically handles the seventh graders, was very satisfied with the outcome.
They did well, Reece said. They won three and lost three, but what you have to keep in mind is that they dont play just seventh grade teams. They play middle school teams that have eighth graders on them as well. They did lose one by double digits but the other two were single digits, and they hang right in there with bigger, stronger, and older kids.
Playing teams like Gray, Sulpher Springs, and Ridgeview, the seventh graders were more than able than hold their ground, pulling off wins against tough opponents including Blountville and their 62 center. The camp lasted three days with two games each evening, and although several of boys had played together in the past, this was the first official time that the team had worked together.
According to Reece, They are from all the different elementary teams, but many of them have played together in the past. Theyve played baseball together, football together, and they just know each other and get along real well. Ive coached a couple of them in the past but Ive not coached all of them together as a team. We only had one actual practice before the camp, so we didnt really have any plays to run, and some of them didnt really have a lot of concepts about the defense, but overall I was impressed. I feel confident about this group. They play hard and they play together pretty well. They want to do whats right. It seems like they want to learn and listen. I think with that combination we will be all right.
Yet as strong as the younger players came out at the camp, they still have some catching up to be on par with their eighth grade counterparts. Coming in on a 23-4 record, Coach Larry Grindstaff is ready to take the reins on one of the most winning teams in recent Johnson County history. Fortunately, even with some of their key players absent the older boys were able to pull out some fantastic victories at Daniel Boone, losing only to Blountville.
They shot well and we lost one but won five, said Coach Grindstaff Of course I didnt have Bud Icenhour because he had a sprained ankle. Nathan Arnold had a football camp, so I didnt have him for the whole thing and I had two or three that were on vacation, so that wasnt too bad. Blountville beat us but they had some big boys on that team. We even had one team that didnt show up because they didnt want to play us. I thought we did awful good.
When asked about taking over a team with so much potential, Grindstaff felt that it created both challenges and advantages. It makes my job a little easier but youve got to stay on top of them, Grindstaff said. Brad is the only one who had ever worked with them. He grew up with them. Im from the Roan Creek area and I had never really dealt with those boys. I helped Brad last year with seventh grade. He works with the guards and I work with the big men. We had 12 kids but were down to nine this year. Some didnt show up and want to play, so Ill probably draw off a couple of seventh grade and see how they work with us. I want to give them some playing time too because that will help us next year.
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