The high school basketball season is here as both the Salem and Glenvar boys and girls open this week.
The Salem boys will take the floor for the first time tonight, Thursday, at Northside. Salem will be led by returning point guard Isaiah Donaldson, a junior who averaged five assists per game and was named second team All-Conference last season.
“Isaiah will start at the point, and after that we have about seven guys in the mix,” said Salem coach Kevin Garst about possible starters.
Returnees battling for starting jobs include seniors Garrison Conner, Willie Plympton and Viante Tucker and Josh Bryan, a junior, is another possibility when he returns from a bout with knee tendonitis. Tucker is still playing football this week, and maybe beyond.
“We don’t bring a lot of experience in terms of minutes played coming back this season,” said Garst. “But the guys have worked hard in the off-season and we hope to play faster this season, both offensively and defensively.”
The Spartans are at Bassett next Tuesday, and their home opener is Friday, December 8, against William Byrd.
As usual, Garst is waiting for the football season to conclude before he knows exactly what his team will look like. That’s become the case for Glenvar coach David Redding as well in recent years. The Highlanders concluded their football season with a loss in the third round of the playoffs last Friday and several key players on the basketball team were on that squad.
Four players who project to be starters are coming off the football team, post players Landry Gerbers and Noah Lovelace and three-point snipers Logan Williams and Dakota Francisco. Noah Duncan is the fifth starter and all but Gerbers are seniors.
“We return a lot of experience from a conference championship team,” said Redding. “We’re also adding some important and talented underclassmen from a very successful jayvee team. New conference members and a tough out of conference schedule, which includes Northside and Salem, should prepare us for our goal of making a deep playoff run.”
Glenvar will play Salem in the Adam Ward Classic on February 3rd. The Highlanders will also appear in the Woody Deans Tournament at the Berglund Center on January 13, when they take on Giles.
Glenvar was scheduled to open at home on Tuesday of this week against Staunton River, but that game was postponed until later in the season due to extended runs in football by both schools. Instead, Glenvar will open Friday at Covington, followed by a game at Lord Botetourt next Tuesday and a trip to Parry McCluer next Wednesday, December 6. With this week’s postponement Glenvar isn’t scheduled to play a home game until December 13, when Covington comes here.
The Glenvar girls have a new coach as long-time Highlander Brian Crockett takes over the reigns. A Glenvar graduate, he’s coached a variety of sports and is excited to take over the girls’ team.
“All the Lady Highlanders have improved fundamentally in the first two weeks of practice and good things are on the horizon,” he said.
Glenvar returns three seniors, Kyleigh Drew, Daniell Bryant and Terrica Moorman. Drew and Bryant are providing great leadership for a fairly young team and Moorman is a defensive specialist.
Taylor Dishon, a junior point guard, will split time at the point with freshman Olivia Harris. Junior Kiera Omberg, a rebounding demon, has been moved to the post and is working hard at her new position while juniors Autumn Mitchell and M.K. Holliday are battling for time. Sophomore Kyra King is the Highlanders tallest post player at 5’10”.
The Highlanders opened at William Byrd Tuesday against an experienced and talented Terrier team, 59-43. Omberg led the girls with 19 points and Drew had a dozen on four three-pointers. The girls are back on the road at Staunton River tonight, followed by their home opener against Blacksburg on Monday night at GHS.
For the Salem girls there’s nowhere to go but up. The Spartans were winless last winter but coach Corbitt Hairston is hoping the experience his young team gained will pay off this season.
Salem has 12 returning players from last year, including leading scorer Katie Evans who is just a sophomore. The Spartans have four seniors, Amanda Woody, Denejia Hampton, Katie Elting and Briana Merritt.
Hairston has six juniors with Lauren Overfelt, Precious Tyree, Kendra Bolen, Alla Daniel, Kenna Payne and Azyah Burnette. Joining Evans from the sophomore class is Madison Hall and freshman McKenzie Moran made the varsity to round out the 13-girl roster.
Salem will open at home tonight against Northside, followed by a trip to Bassett next Tuesday, December 5.