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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Depth is key for Vikings' continued success

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Community Vikings are coming off of one of the most successful seasons in school history in 2011-2012 when they finished 21-8, 11-3 in District 9-A under five-year head coach Jace Bryant and expectations are that they will continue to raise the bar in Unionville.

Bryant turned the reins over to Robbie Davis after the season and fans who became accustomed to fast-paced games last season had better strap up their seatbelts for the upcoming campaign.

The Vikings lose some key contributors in four-year starter Jake Leverette, who became just the 11th player in school history to join the 1,000-point club, Austin Thurber, who was steady at the guard and an excellent scorer, and Ryan Adams who provided depth and leadership.

Veterans return

"Jake, Austin and Ryan leave some big shoes to fill," Community coach Robbie Davis said. "Jake and Austin were two of the most prolific shooters in our program history and it will be a challenge to replace them.

"We are fortunate to have a veteran mixture of returning players in Zeke Grissom, Tanner Simmons, Luke Primm, Logan Pierce, Blake Fanning and Taylor Paschal that played significant minutes last season and we have worked hard in the weight room and with the conditioning program to get ready."

Community raced out to a quick start last season with 13 wins in the first 15 games and Viking fever was at its most feverish, but a mid-season slump of sorts, starting with a 76-70 home loss, after leading by as many as 15 points late in the game to Forrest in January led to a down the stretch 8-6 record to close the season out.

Staying focused

"Basketball is such a long season that I think that it is the one sport that when you peak a little early and then start to struggle a little bit that young people tend to lose focus," Davis said. "They don't quit but they tend to get a little disinterested. The challenge of course is not to peak to soon and to maintain a level approach mentally to wins and losses.

"It is important to not get too high after we win a few or let a loss get into our heads. This team loves to play the game. They are gym rats and they are very close knit bunch. There is no finger pointing after losses, they are very unselfish, they take ownership of their mistakes and we seem to have a different one or two guys step up on any given night so I feel we will be pretty steady."

The Vikings finished 2-1 in the Hall of Fame games this season with a loss to a very talented Lancaster Christian Academy before beating DeKalb County, who is picked to win District 8-AA, and defeated Van Buren easily by a 59-39 score.

Scoring punch

To showcase the depth of the team, the Community bench outscored opponents by a 74-25 margin in those contests.

The Vikings then embark on a very tough stretch of four straight district games with three on the road to kick the season off in earnest.

"We start district play at Moore County, Cascade comes to us and then we go to MTCS and Fayetteville," Davis said. "We will be challenged very quickly with that schedule so it is important that we get focused starting Tuesday night."

Community starts the season tonight at 7 in Unionville against high scoring Columbia Academy who has averaged 81 points per game so far this season.

'Fun' ahead

"We are excited to get the season going and we are going to be a fun team to watch," Davis said. "We are a very balanced team and we are going to run the floor and put up a lot of shots.

"We have a good mix of kids including a freshman group that we are excited about.

"We will get Darrian Pride back in a week or so from his football injury and he will definitely enter the rotation and be a key contributor as a freshman.

"Our fans have been great so far and we look forward to a sellout crowd for Tuesday nights opener.

"It should be quite a show."

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