The student voice of St. George's Independent School.

On defense

Gryphons shoot for state repeat

Photo: Avery Whitehead '17

St. George’s varsity basketball forms a huddle to discuss their game plan during a game against ECS on Dec. 9. The Gryphons won state last year and look to do it again.

Sam Hyde, Staff Writer

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Coming off one of the best seasons in the team’s history, the St. George’s Gryphons varsity basketball team is looking to repeat their success from last year.

Seniors Mac McGuffee and Eric Matula looked at last year as one of the best moments of their lives.

“That was a great season and it was definitely something special to be a part of,” McGuffee said. “It was something that I will never forget.”

“Last year’s season was incredible. We came together as a team to push our common goal to win state,” Matula said. “We had a lot of good talent, and it was a great season to be a part of.”

The team prides itself on its excellent outside shooting. Juniors Ryan Bray and Chase Hayden are adept three-point shooters who are commonly asked to space the floor for players like junior Noah Pope, who does most of his damage inside the arc.

The Gryphons’ defense still looks to be formidable as well, as the team works off of a zone defense that forces other teams to take outside shots and prevents them from getting too many looks inside the paint.

However, the team will not be without key losses this year. The team has lost five contributors to last season’s team. Four of those five, Justin Scott, Justin Wertner, Logan Parsons and Connor Green, graduated last year. Meanwhile, the fifth, McGuffee, tore his ACL during the first varsity game this year, which will cost him the season.

“We lost some leadership and obviously some scoring threats,” McGuffee said. “Connor was a big part of the inside presence and Justin and his size was big. Their length will be missed as we will be smaller.”

All hope is not lost, however, as two of the biggest contributors to last season’s championship, Hayden and Pope, will be returning. Members of the team trust in both players’ abilities and believe that each one will take on a bigger role this season.

“I think Noah will have to be a big inside presence. Chase, I’m not sure his role will change that much,” McGuffee said. “He was our leading scorer towards the end of the year, so we will need that night in and night out.”

Both players are juniors this year, and with another year of experience under their belts, they will be asked to fill a larger role in order to fill the holes left by the players who have left the team.

Other players on the Gryphons’ team look to take on larger roles, such as juniors Johnathan McNeill, Bray and Corey Jones, as well as seniors Matula and Andrew Deaton. The foundation for the team has been weakened by the departure of the seniors from last year and the injury to McGuffee, but this year is still very promising.

“We are looking forward to doing all that we can to defend our state championship. More importantly we will strive to play with great effort, focus and as a team to represent the school well,” varsity basketball Coach Jeff Ruffin said about this coming season.

“While we lost some tremendous players to graduation this past year, we are excited about the nucleus that returns and know that this good group of young men will work hard to prepare themselves for another good season of Gryphon basketball,” Coach Ruffin said.

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On defense