It has been a basketball season unlike any veteran Henry County High School head coach Mike Greer has ever seen. “I’m sure that I never thought about having to try to get through a season the way this one has gone when I went into coaching,” said Greer. The Patriot program lost the ability to train and attend camps during the summer months because of coronavirus protocols. The virus continued to impact the team through the preseason when the TSSAA prohibited scrimmage games. Positive virus tests and contact tracing quarantines along with an extended football season at HCHS left the Patriots playing most of the first month of the basketball season with just six players. Despite all that, the Patriots have forged an 8-3 start to the season and are 4-2 in District 10-AAA play heading into tonight’s matchup at Clarksville Northwest. “I don’t think anybody could ask for anything more from our kids than what they’ve been able to produce so far this season under these conditions,” said Greer. “They dealt with playing with only six players and then, having a sudden influx of guys rejoining the team that forced us to adjust what we were doing again. Through it all, we are almost at the midpoint of our season and we are in the thick of the district race.” Greer broke down what has gone right for the Patriots so far and what the team needs to do to expand on the good start. TEAM HAS SURPRISE CONTRIBUTORS The Patriots were a senior-dominated team last year, so there weren’t too many returning Patriots who had much game experience. But the older players had provided good challenges during practice for the Patriot starters, which was an important component in last year’s 22-6 record and region tournament berth. Seniors Semaj King, Jawon Odoms and Andrew Wimberley saw considerable action last year but are asked to be leaders this time around. “Semaj King has really taken his game up another level. He is the playmaker for us and he is very disruptive on defense. I think he is the best player in the district hands down,” Greer said. Odoms is a strong athlete who can rebound and score inside while Wimberley adds height and can shoot the 3-point shot. Greer said the team has been blessed with junior Zay Phelps and sophomores Jackson Hayes and Brice Donaldson. Phelps has been a do-it-all kind of player who has led the Patriots in scoring, rebounds well, can handle the ball and play defense. Hayes gives the team a second ballhandler next to King at guard. Donaldson is a swingman who can heat up quickly to provide points. All three have range that extends from the front of the basket to several steps behind the 3-point line on their shot. More depth has come from junior Peyton Tomlin, sophomore Chandler Scott and freshman Caden Marshall. EVERYBODY CAN SCORE The Patriots routinely get doublefigure scoring from four players and have had games with five men scoring 10 points or more. “One of the most pleasant things about coaching this team is that these guys really want to make that extra pass to help their teammates score points. Of course they all want to score, but they don’t mind passing to a teammate that has a better shot and do it all the time. It really is a rare combination for a team to have,” said Greer. Phelps has averaged 17.8 points through 11 games with King checking in at 15.2 and Donaldson has an 11.5 average. Hayes scores right at 10 points a game with Odoms having an 8.8 average so far. Tomlin scored in double figures when he was starting for the shorthanded Patriots earlier in the season and gives them scoring off the bench now. Marshall has shown that he has the strength and body to score points inside when he is in the game. Four Patriots have more than 10 3-point baskets and another player has eight. IMPROVEMENTS STILL NEEDED Greer said the Patriots have played very well to this point and own a road victory over the preseason pick to win the district, but he believes the team can get better. “These guys have put themselves in a good spot solidly in the middle of the district race. Now there are still some things that our guys have to do if they want to put themselves in contention to be real contenders when the postseason gets here. We have to develop the toughness that it takes to become a better rebounding team and we have to get better at playing team defense. We play pretty good one-onone defense, but I’m talking about understanding the impact of playing defense as a group to stop another team. If we can continue to work hard and improve those areas, I think these guys have a real shot at being that kind of contender in the postseason,” said Greer. FANS ARE MISSING OUT ON A TREAT Greer said he really hates that crowds are limited to just the player’s immediate families. “I understand with the virus why we are having to limit the crowds but I really hate it that more people aren’t getting to see our guys play. I think they are the kind of team that everyone would enjoy watching play and supporting. They are great kids that play the game the right way,” said Greer. He said playing in the near-empty gyms really hasn’t hurt the team’s effort or enthusiasm. “All these guys have played travel ball or been to camp where you have games early on Saturday mornings and there will be nobody in the gym. They are used to games like that, so that hasn’t been a problem. Still, we miss our fans. Hopefully the situation will change before too long and we can allow more people into the gyms to see these guys play. They really are a fun group to watch and coach,” said Greer.

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