SHS Has Plenty Of Depth
Boys Go 12 Deep
Posted: March 8, 2013
PENN LAIRD – For the Trailblazers, depth has been a weapon, like a ticking time bomb that opponents have been unable to defuse.
Plenty of high school basketball teams have depth, but few have the depth that has boosted the Spotswood High School boys and girls to the Division 3 state title games – quality talent coming off the bench despite relatively small roster sizes.
“We don’t have a designated 7, 8, 9 guy,” SHS senior forward Austin Nicely said. “We just have subs. Anybody can play at any given time.”
Spreading out minutes among 12 boys and 13 girls has allowed both SHS teams to play an extremely up-tempo style of basketball on both ends, utilizing full-court pressure and zone traps to force turnovers. Points off those takeaways have only added to offenses stocked with talented shooters, while allowing SHS to outlast opponents even on poor shooting nights.
Spotswood managed only single-digit points in the first quarters of the boys’ state quarterfinals and semifinals against Martinsville and Bruton. But SHS outscored the Bulldogs 37-20 in the second half to win, 61-44. MHS clearly outsized the Blazers but struggled against their speedy, aggressive defense without a true point guard.
Against Bruton – a physical squad with plenty of athleticism to match Spotswood’s quickness – the Blazers required a 24-point fourth quarter on Tuesday to win 70-69.
“[Tuesday] was not looking pretty,” SHS coach Chad Edwards said, “but to go in the huddles… the words I was hearing, particularly from our seniors, was, ‘C’mon. Together. We can do this.’ And the look in their eyes didn’t change.”
The girls have leaned heavily on senior point guard Bailey Williams, who will play Division I basketball at North Carolina-Greensboro. Williams had a triple double in a 70-57 semifinal win over Monticello on Tuesday and has scored 43 total points in two state tournament games.
But three other Blazers are also averaging double figures in scoring at states: junior forward Tayler Dodson (29 total points), junior substitute Nikki Lam (29, including a career-high 24 points in a state quarterfinal win over Patrick County) and sophomore guard Elizabeth Dofflemyer (23).
“They just so willingly play their role, knowing that role may change on any given night,” SHS girls’ basketball coach Chris Dodson said. “…There were some nights where teams tried to double team Tayler and face-guard Bailey, try to limit her touches. And it mattered how our other girls played.”
That still could be the case, with a state title on the line against Brunswick on Saturday.
For the boys, freshman guard Justin Kier – who had previously played about 32 combined varsity minutes during the playoffs as a JV call-up – logged nearly 32 minutes in two state tournament games. In those contests, Kier is the team’s fourth-leading scorer at states with 14 total points, including a game-winning layup off a Khalil Davis pass with 17 seconds left against Bruton.
Junior point guard Tucker McCoy has led SHS with 44 points (22 in each state playoff game), senior swingman Hyrum Weiler had 29 with 19 rebounds and Nicely added 22 points. Four other Blazers combined for 22 more.
The remaining four players on the 12-man roster who did not score still played, contributing in rebounding or adding to Spotswood’s relentless defensive pressure.
“It’s very unusual to see a team at this stage play all 12 guys,” Edwards said, referring to the state tournament. “Rotations actually tend to get shorter. … We’ve needed everyone on our roster.”
SHS’s depth is nothing new, though it’s serving a more important purpose in the playoffs (the Blazers didn’t need their bench as much in several blowout wins during the regular season).
It’s been Josh Lasam and Seth Hinkle regularly stroking 3-pointers off the bench. Kevin Saylor, a 6-1 sophomore, subbing in late with a scoring spark, once even throwing down a dunk. Cole Lokey entering a game as yet another in-your-face defender. Caleb Detamore gobbling up rebounds, while spelling Nicely or Jacob Garber. David Blandon knocking down free throws or layups with ease – because who thinks to guard player No. 12 as closely as Weiler, the Valley District Player of the Year, or McCoy?
Not surprisingly, depth has shown up the most in the fourth quarter, as the Blazers have outscored opponents 574-350 in the final period this season.
“Our style is up-tempo,” Nicely said. “Create havoc for all four quarters and hopefully wear them down by the fourth quarter.”
With Lokey returning to limited game action for the state tournament after breaking his wrist on Feb. 11, the Blazers are officially back “together,” which is their team mantra under Edwards. It’s said in every team huddle. It’s even written on the backs of Spotswood’s warm-up jerseys and on its new gray uniforms.
“Our team bond is as strong as any team that I’ve coached,” Edwards said.
Against two-time defending champion Brunswick, Spotswood’s depth will be tested – but it also might be its only hope to pass the test.