West Stokes basketball players didn’t waste any time jumping back into practice Friday morning, the day after Thanksgiving. The team looked in sync showing off some quick footwork during a series of drills.
With two scrimmages behind them and an 88-42 season opening win against Elkin on Monday, coach Dan Spainhour is pleased with how his team is coming together.
“I’d like to see us competing night in and night out. I’m hoping by January we’ll be competitive. I’m not saying we won’t be before that, but this team is going to take a little longer to develop,” he said.
The Wildcats only graduated two seniors last season, Spencer Hensley and Keshawn Rawleigh, but the memorable duo were both all-conference, four-year varsity players and part of the conference championship team in 2013.
“We’re losing some of that confidence Spencer gave us, but we’ll find our own voice. Those two are hard to replace. We’ve got to sort out our guards, particularly our point guard. Keshawn had it for three or four years,” the coach said.
But if there’s any coach to develop players, it’s Spainhour.
With over 30 years of high school and college experience, he’s collected more than 500 victories and his teams have won nearly 70% of their games. In 2008, he made his way back to King after serving as the director of basketball operations for Florida State University. He’s led the Wildcats to a sectional championship and a prestigious Frank Spencer Tournament win. He’s been named coach of the year 16 times throughout his career.
“It sounds cheesy but our goal is to play hard, play together and have fun. We should never have a bad effort game,” he said.
Expectations run high for seniors Caustin Beckner, Kameron Wall, Gavin Parker, Brodedric Howard, and Andrew Spainhour. Four of the five are transitioning from football after being part of a record breaking season. Beckner, who’s nursing an ankle injury and expected to be on the court in the next one to two weeks, set a school record of 377 individual tackles throughout his high school career. Wall broke his own touchdown reception record with 9 this season, 17 in the past four years, and Parker led West in interceptions.
“We’re football heavy. Our guys play multiple sports and that’s good. We’re going to be counting on them. We’ve got a number of guys who haven’t played a lot of basketball and those seniors will have to expand their roles,” Spainhour said.
The coach is pleased with what he’s seen from sophomores moving up to varsity, Wes Ayers and John Brooke.
“They’re doing a good job for us. Because we only graduated two, we’ve had some JV guys play down that would have probably in other years been on varsity,” he said.
While the team doesn’t set goals in terms of wins and losses they focus on high standards and strenuous effort.
“We hope they understand individual and collective responsibility. That’s what we talk about. In other words, do the right thing for them and do the right thing for the other people in the program,” Spainhour said. “I think they’re going to be fun to watch. We’re working hard and getting ready.”
Amanda Dodson can be reached at 336-813-2426 or on Twitter at AmandaTDodson.