After finishing the 2017-18 regular season with a losing record of 9-14, Varsity Boys Basketball is in position for a successful season.
Having graduated only three seniors with the class of 2018, one being Tyler Trimble who was recruited to play for Christopher Newport University, the current varsity roster consists of eight seniors and four juniors.
Returning captain and starting point guard, senior Ben Heflin, is ready for the challenges of the upcoming season.
“Being a captain last year I wasn’t very vocal but I have the experience, so this year I can lead the team during hard situations,” Heflin said. “[It’s hard to] keep everyone’s head on straight and engaged during the long season.”
Heflin was unanimously voted by his teammates, both this season and last, to hold the position as captain.
“As captain you have to try and be perfect everyday,” Heflin said. “In order to do that you have to lead by example.”
With only upperclassmen on the roster Heflin has an example to set not only for his varsity teammates but for future Cougars as well, but Heflin isn’t the only player who is dedicated to setting an example.
“I’m looking forward to showing people that we can win games and be successful even after everything that has happened off the court,” junior Garrett Trimble said. “Everybody has said our program is broken and headed in the wrong direction but we are taking it upon ourselves to prove them wrong.”
Basketball being the biggest winter spectator sport draws old rivalries, and new ones, to the court.
Junior Joseph Randall, a standout at power forward, is playing his first season on varsity.
“I’m excited about competing against players I’ve grown up with that play for Fauquier and Liberty,” Randall said.
Kettle Run, Liberty, and Fauquier are the only public high schools in the country, fostering competition between the three schools — the most notable of which is the Kettle Run-Fauquier rivalry. Last season the team suffered a 72-62 loss to Fauquier, but came back later in the season to beat the Falcons 77-62 with the home court advantage.
“I’m looking forward to being able to play the sport I love,” Corcoran said. “My favorite team to play against is Fauquier.”
Junior Jonathan Keen is playing his first season on varsity.
“I’m really looking forward to beating our rivals Fauquier and Liberty,” Keen said.
Last season the team lost both their games against Liberty. With a 74-71 loss at home and a 62-9 loss on the road, the team has room for improvement for their first game at Liberty on Jan. 15, and their second on Feb. 8 at home.
Head coach Troy Washington has been coaching the Cougars for 11 years and continues to build his program with the help of assistant coach Austin Hundley.
Looking forward to next season, Washington will have his work cut out for him after losing eight current players to graduation.
“We normally keep underclassmen and look at positions to make sure we have returning players,” Washington said.
With both a Freshmen and a Junior Varsity team, Washington will have no shortage of potential players for next season.
Though Fauquier is arguably the team’s biggest rival, they are not the team’s biggest competition or fiercest opponent.
“Our biggest competition is probably going to be John Handley,” Randall said. “Last year they were the state runner ups and they have a lot of returning players.”
Last season the team lost their first game against Handley with a final score of 77-36, though their second game against their biggest opponents ended with another loss, the final score was 69-35.
“Our biggest competition will for sure be John Handley. They won our district last year and they ended up losing in the state championship,” Trimble said. “Although they lost a lot of seniors, they have a great coach and they still have a lot of talent on the team. It should be a good match up when we play them this year.”
In preparation for their first face off with Handley, Jan. 17 at Handley, Washington has had the team working around the clock.
“We have spent time with our transition defense and offense,” Washington said. “All teams like to play fast and we like to play fast as well.”
In the nine months between the end of the 2017-18 season and the beginning of the 2018-19 season the team worked to start the season strong.
“Over the off season a lot of stuff happened. In order to prepare for this season, we went to a lot of team camps, and we held daily breakfast clubs and open gyms,” Trimble said. “We were playing great at the camps and we had a lot of people showing up to our workouts. Hopefully it will all come together on the court this year.”
Though they face tough opponents with eight graduating seniors on the roster and four solid juniors, who are playing their first seasons on varsity, the Cougars might just have a winning season.
“We are a very close team that will always have everyone’s backs and there is nothing we can’t get through as a team,” Heflin said.