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Boys basketball: Reed, Warriors not going to give up easily

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Riverside sophomore guard Josh Butcher catches a pass on the perimeter and flips a shot that goes through for a 3-pointer.

The next time down the floor, Butcher takes a pass in the opposite corner and hits another 3.

This would happen two more times in the first half as part of the Warriors' second consecutive victory to start the 2012-13 season, 58-52 over St. Albans in Quincy on Friday night.

The lanky guard isn't going to do much more offensively than hit long-range shots, but he has used two games to earn a decent living doing just that.

Butcher is part of a resurgent Warriors team that hopes to take its place among State Tournament candidates during a season that the Kanawha Valley doesn't appear to have overwhelming star power.

"We have a lot of scorers," Butcher said. "I might score 20 one game and I might score five the next game. We all pick up one another."

In two games for second-year Coach Dusty Herscher's team, Butcher has made 11 field goals, which includes nine 3-pointers.

Butcher leads the Warriors in scoring with a 17.5 points per game average.

His 10th-grade exuberance is supplemented by the experience of point guard Marcus Reed, who is second on the team in scoring with 17 points per game.

Reed is a four-year starter and on his second coach. He has endured what has been instability in the Riverside boys basketball program since the midway point of the 2007-08 season.

The Warriors were 3-6 when former Coach Tom Watkins called it quits that year and Danny Hill finished the season in which Riverside had a 7-16 record.

In 2008, Riverside finished a paltry 5-18 under Coach Duane Estep, who resigned at the conclusion of the season.

In 2009, the future looked bright - and stable - when former Matewan standout and George Washington assistant David Starr accepted the head coaching position. Two seasons and a 10-36 record, Starr resigned and went back to the GW staff.

Enter Herscher, a 2000 graduate of St. Albans, who cut his basketball-playing teeth on a roster that included All-American Brett Nelson.

He doesn't give up easily.

"Last year, I was new to the program, they were new to me, they went through different coaches, the main difference this year is our intensity and our want to win," Herscher said. "We played this summer more than 60 games and different team camps and learned how to win. We won more than 80 percent of our games."

Herscher used nine players in each of the Warriors' first two games, with six scoring in the opener against Shady Spring and seven against the Red Dragons.

Tyus Wood is a starter who had 11 points against the Tigers but didn't play versus St. Albans for disciplinary reasons.

Tamar Lawson, an athletic sophomore - scored 10 points against Shady - and Nick Light, who joins Reed as a senior starter, had 18 points in two games.

The linchpin of the operation is Reed, who has 957 career points entering Tuesday's game at Spring Valley.

What was a steady progression for the first three years of his career seems to have spiked.

"It's a mindset," Herscher said. "No disrespect to the other coaches, but they haven't been on him like I've been on him. He wants to play at the next level and I'm trying to get him there. I think he can. In practices, I put him through it.

"I challenged him (against St. Albans) right in front of everybody and he stepped up to the challenge, and Nick has stepped up. They're playing with a lot more intensity and a lot more drive."

And, that could mean a lot more wins.

Contact Assistant Sports Editor Rich Stevens at richstevens@dailymail.com or 304-348-4837.


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