‘A terrific group of young men’

Published 2:57 pm Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Junior varsity (JV) teams are young by definition, but Central High School’s JV boys basketball team is particularly young in addition to being inexperienced. The squad is 0-5 entering its road game Wednesday against Nottoway High School, but the Chargers appear to have essential tools that can help make them winners in the long run.

“We are extremely young and inexperienced,” Central Head Coach Michael Atkins said. “I have a terrific group of young men. They are good kids that want to learn and enjoy playing with one another. Many have never played organized team basketball before and are playing with one another for the first time.”

So far this season, the Chargers have faced Buckingham County, Bluestone, Randolph-Henry, Prince Edward County and Amelia County high schools. They have lost by an average of 33 points, but their closest game so far was their last one in which they fell 44-33 to visiting Amelia.

“We are showing progress,” Atkins said. “We are focused on taking small steps toward player development and preparing those who can potentially step in to contribute to the varsity team down the road.”

The team’s roster is comprised of one sophomore, six freshmen and two eighth-graders.

Two key players from last season’s squad moved up to the varsity level this season — sophomores Tyler McGrath and Kameron Cates.

When discussing his expectations for Central’s 2018-19 JV squad, Atkins made it clear that he is not focused on the team’s record.

“Wins and losses are not a focal point for me or this team,” he said. “Our focus is on playing as a team, raising our level of play and competitiveness each week.”

The coach noted that both of his eighth-grade players, guards Denver Graham and Latrell Johnson, “have taken advantage of the opportunity to learn and develop their game a year early against better competition. This should be helpful as they will come into next season as freshmen with a better understanding of our system and expectations.”

Sophomore Tyquan Roberts and freshmen JuNarie Hardy and NyJae Carter are the team’s starting guards.

“Their level of play is improving each week as they become comfortable with one another and gain more confidence in the offensive and defensive systems in place, responsibilities and their passing and ball handling to break press and dribble penetrate,” Atkins said.

Freshmen O’Darius Green and Sterling Currin start as forwards, and “both have learned a great deal over the past month and will step up to be dependable contributors next season and at the varsity level,” Atkins said. “O’Darius is likely our best shooter, and Sterling plays extremely hard and is a tenacious defender.”

The coach said freshmen centers James Puryear and Jackson Childers are both learning the post position. They are also working hard and improving each week on their skills. Puryear is a first-time player.