SHS Goal: States
And Blazers May Be The Real McCoys
Posted: November 20, 2012
HARRISONBURG – As an obviously talented freshman point guard, Tucker McCoy was lauded as a potential district Player of the Year in the making. The Spotswood High School star saw what one looked like up close that season.
The Trailblazers defeated Rockbridge County, which was led by then-sophomore guard Andrew Rowsey, 64-47 in the Region III, Division 3 semifinals on Feb. 24, 2011. Last season, Rowsey broke the Group AA single-season scoring record with 802 points (28.6 ppg) and was named the Blue Ridge District Player of the Year in leading RCHS to the state semifinals, where it lost to eventual champion Brunswick in overtime.
Rowsey and McCoy will go nose-to-nose again when Spotswood opens its 2012-13 season at home on Nov. 30 in the Blazer Tip-Off Tournament, which will include Millbrook and Stuarts Draft. In total, Spotswood – the Valley District preseason favorite – will face three state-qualifying teams from last season, not counting scrim mages against qualifiers Fluvanna County and Hidden Valley.
SHS (9-14 overall, 5-7 in the Valley in 2011-12) will also play Handley, a perennial playoff team.
“It’s my philosophy on scheduling always to schedule as high quality of a team as you can,” SHS coach Chad Edwards said. “… I just feel that best prepares us for the postseason.”
It’s apparently McCoy’s philosophy to aim high. Immediately after Spotswood’s season-ending loss to Waynesboro in the district semifinals, McCoy said the Blazers would be a state playoff team for the fourth time in five years this winter. He still thinks so.
“Yes sir. I think we’re getting better each and every day,” McCoy said after practice Monday. “… I think we have a good chance to make a run.”
McCoy – who led the Valley with 21.9 points per game last season – was a distant third in the Valley’s Player of the Year voting behind Waynesboro center Alex Graves, who is now playing at Lynchburg College, and Broadway swingman Mike Richardson, now at Eastern Mennonite University.
But the best news for Spotswood this year isn’t really McCoy at all.
It’s the fact that SHS – inexperienced, small and unproven a year ago – is suddenly stacked with experience that should yield more consistent offensive contributors. In other words, McCoy will have ample help.
“I think he’s excited to have proven weapons around him and not carry the burden or the pressure of having to put up big, big numbers every single night,” said Edwards, who is thrilled to have five seniors after having none last season.
One of those seniors is Austin Nicely, a pitcher who signed his letter of intent to play baseball at the University of Virginia last week. Nicely played a significant role off the bench during Spotswood’s state semifinal run as a sophomore, and he will be relied on as a “jack of all trades” and a leader this time around, Edwards said.
A starting lineup, however, has yet to be determined. That’s a good problem to have for Spotswood, which has seven to eight starting-caliber players currently, Edwards said, on a roster of 11. The only newcomer is sophomore Kevin Saylor, a rangy guard who shot well for a SHS junior varsity team that went 16-5.
Another likely lock for a starting job is Hyrum Weiler – described by Edwards as a big guard who, along with McCoy, vastly improved this offseason. Weiler transferred in from Georgia last year.
“It’s nice when two important guys use the offseason to address their weaknesses and really work hard to get better,” Edwards said of Weiler and McCoy, praising the latter for his improved defense and “underrated” vision as a passer. “I’m blessed to have two guys that didn’t rest on their laurels in the offseason, and our less-than-stellar record motivated them.”
Also back for the Blazers: sophomore Khalil Davis, juniors Joshua Lasam and David Blandon, and senior Cole Lokey at guard; with junior Caleb Detamore and seniors Jacob Garber and Seth Hinkle at forward.
“I do think we’re stronger,” said Edwards when analyzing his team’s forwards and overall height. “And the second part of that is I think the league is smaller.”
Garber had a career-high 19 points in SHS’s 77-73 upset of regular-season district champion R.E. Lee in the Valley quarterfinals, and Hinkle netted 13 points in a 78-74 double-overtime win over Broadway, the eventual district tournament champion. Those were the bright spots for a group of forwards adjusting to the varsity level – forwards who will only add to Spotswood’s strong perimeter shooting led by McCoy and Lasam.
“Last year wasn’t a good year to be young,” Edwards said, “but we hope this year will be a good year to be experienced.”