Boys basketball: Sherman learning the ropes in Class A
SETH, W.Va. - Sherman Coach Chris Duncan does not sound like someone whose team is coming off back-to-back defeats, including a lopsided loss to Greater Beckley Christian.
And it gets no easier for Sherman, which will play host to Valley tonight. The eighth-ranked Greyhounds (7-2) beat the Tide (5-5) by 30 points last month.
However, the Boone County team already has won more games this season than it did the previous two seasons combined.
"We only won one last year and three two years ago," said Duncan, whose team dropped from Class AA to Class A at the start of the 2012-13 school year. "For us to already win five, that is good.
"We are moving in the right direction. It is only going to help down the road. We are still learning how to win with all of these young kids. We only have two seniors. We are pleased right now, but we are never satisfied."
Sherman has two victories versus Van, two versus Hannan and one versus Montcalm. In addition to Greater Beckley Christian and Valley, Sherman has lost to Class AA opponents Clay County, Liberty Raleigh and Scott.
"In the five games we lost, we got beat by two top 10 single-A teams in Greater Beckley and Valley and two top 10 double-A teams in Liberty and Scott," Duncan said. "We have played some quality opponents.
"Some games, we have held our own. Other games, we haven't because we didn't do what we were supposed to do. Our kids have to learn that you have to play every day. You can't turn it on and off like a light switch."
The Tide's current starting lineup features senior center Garrett Lester, junior guard Blake Brewer, junior forward Cody Muncy, sophomore guard Braden Harrah and sophomore forward Aaron Lowe.
Muncy (16.7 points per game) and Brewer (13.6) are Sherman's only double-digit scorers.
"Cody and Blake are our two scorers," Duncan said. "They have to score for us to even be in games. They worked hard over the off-season to get better."
Lester has made an immediate impact since he transferred from St. Albans after football season.
"He has helped tremendously," Duncan said of Lester, who is Sherman's second-leading rebounder at seven boards per game. "One kid coming in can make a major impact in Single-A. He is a hard worker. He listens. He is very coachable. The kids love him."
And they love each other.
"Everybody is getting along, and that is one of the reasons we are where we are right now," Duncan said. "They don't fight and argue all of the time."
Duncan also has a deep bench, with as many as six reserves receiving playing time. They are senior center Duncan Breeden, junior swingman Tait Pauley, sophomore guard Adam Pauley, sophomore swingman Corey Smith, freshman swingman Blake Nelson and freshman guard Tyler Stewart.
"We have been playing 10 or 11," Duncan said.
Duncan thinks Harrah, Lowe, Pauley and Smith can help the Tide compete at the highest level the next two seasons if they are willing to work.
"I think next year we are going to be even better than we are this year because of the playing time these young kids are going to get," Duncan said. "That sophomore class is a bunch of great athletes. If they work, we have a chance to be special. If they don't work, we won't. I think we will be able to be pretty good the next couple of years."
How well Sherman does the rest of this season will depend on its defense.
"When we play defense like we are supposed to, we can compete with anybody," Duncan said. "When we don't, we get beat by 20 or 30. We are 10 games in and have 12 more to go before the postseason. Our goal is to be a very good defensive team before the end of the year."