FAIRLEA, WV- Last season, the Greenbrier East Spartans basketball team had an incredible year.
They spent most of the season ranked inside the top 10 due to their strength of schedule and their ability to knock off several of the high-profile teams on that schedule. They also had eight seniors who, most of them, had played together for years. So, gone are Adam Seams, Goose Gabbert, Bryson Brammer, Kaiden Huffman, Monquelle Davis, Jude Libby, Chris Sinclair, and Chris Jacobs. But the season ended abruptly, however, when they suffered a loss to Oak Hill in the opening round of the sectionals. Still, those eight seniors were key to most of the Spartans’ success over the last couple of years.
But now, those players have graduated and moved on, making this year’s version of the Spartans short on experience, but big on opportunity.
Head coach Jared Patton believes he has a roster that is ready to step right in and compete at a high level despite the key losses, and it may surprise a lot of fans what they can bring to the court.
“Expectations are high,” Patton said.
“We have a young group that I truly believe will surprise a lot of people this season,” he added.
As mentioned above, youth will be a hot topic a lot this year. The team will feature just two seniors—Gabe Patton and Peyton DeHaven—and the rest of the roster is basically new, bringing very little varsity experience.
“Patience is key for the coaching staff this season. All the players play hard and are willing to learn the game of basketball. They are just young and need some time to gel. We go over fundamentals every day,” Patton explained.
He does feel lucky to have his son, Gabe, helping his teammates adjust and prepare every day.
“Gabe is our only returning player with varsity experience. He is a true competitor and knows how to hold his teammates accountable and helps them play at the highest level,” coach Patton said.
A quick glance at the schedule shows another tough slate with games against Woodrow (Class AAAA no. 6) and Morgantown (no. 1) just to name a couple, but coach Patton believes in a tough regular season to prepare for what the postseason will throw at them.
“One game at a time. The more these guys play together, the better we will be. The season is tough, but we will be battle tested when it comes to sectionals,” he said.
The head man expects to see his players grow and learn each day and he provided some names that fans will come to know rather quickly.
“Impact players for this season will be Gabe Patton, Brody Hamric, Don Penn, Peyton DeHaven, and Reed McCraw. We also have a couple freshmen that will be fun to watch–Braylen Godfrey and Darius Burns. Jakob Tomlinson, Layne Lambert and Nathan Dixon have the potential to be really good for us once they get more floor time,” coach Patton explained.
East got a scrimmage win over Ripley this past weekend. Hamric and Ga. Patton had 18 and 14 points, respectively, and the rest of the team showed promise for what could be one of those years where no one knows what to expect, but as coach Patton referred to earlier, could be pleasantly surprised.
You can get your first look at the 2023-24 Spartans this Friday night in Fairlea when they open the season with their biggest rivals, the 6th ranked Woodrow Wilson Flying Eagles. Tipoff is set for 7:30 PM and a big crowd is expected.
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