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Despite early struggles, Grovetown basketball eyes a state title repeat

Warriors are playing with a target on their back, but top competition will only sharpen them for another post-season run

Grovetown Boys Basketball

Head Coach: Darren Douglas

Region: Region 2-AAAAAA

Last Season: 29-3, won Class AAAAAA State Championship

Standout Players: PG Malik Ferguson (Sr.), G/F Derrion Reid (Jr.), G Markel Freeman (Jr.), F Frankquon Sherman (Sr.), DJ Douglas (Jr.)

GROVETOWN, GEORGIA – Winning puts a target on your back.

The Grovetown boy's basketball team is not immune from that and despite a tough start to the season, the Warriors aren’t wavering from their ultimate goal of repeating as Class AAAAAA state champions.

Despite a slow start this season, senior forward Frankquon Sherman is one reason why the Grovetown boys are still a big threat to repeat their run to last year's Class AAAAAA state championship.

Despite a slow start this season, senior forward Frankquon Sherman is one reason why the Grovetown boys are still a big threat to repeat their run to last year's Class AAAAAA state championship.

The Warriors broke through with a state title last year, defying all odds along the way before knocking off perennial power Wheeler in the finals. This year, the Warriors are 2-4 to start the season and have lost three games in a row to Buford, Newton and Wheeler.

Playing the state’s best teams is what head coach Darren Douglas and the Warriors set out to do this season. Last year, the Warriors were targeting other top-ranked teams in hopes of taking them down. This year, the roles have reversed.

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“We’ve kind of realized that the target has changed,” Douglas said. “Last year, we wanted to knock some of these guys off. I think this year it’s changed. People want to knock us off.”

But the Warriors aren’t letting their 2-4 record to start the season get them off track. Two of their three losses have come against Top 5 ranked teams in Class AAAAAAA. Wheeler is currently ranked as the No. 1 team in 7A and the No. 1 team in the state of Georgia. Newton isn’t too far behind.

Douglas said he knew going into this season that playing a tough schedule would lead to some losses and that is perfectly fine by him.

“I feel like you build your muscles for late February and March in November and December,” Douglas said. “And you do that by playing the best teams that you possibly can. At the end of the day, the win-loss record only goes with the coach. The kids don’t get to take that with them when they leave. We’ll win some of them and drop some of them. But the knowledge that we’ll get from it is the most vital thing.”

The Warriors have a very experienced team this season. Standout point guard Malik Ferguson returns for his senior season, as does forward Frankquon Sherman. Juniors Markel Freeman and Derrion Reid are also back with another year of experience and that is sure to help the team in the long run.

“This year, guys came in with the mindset of being there for one another,” Douglas said. “The guys genuinely celebrate each other’s success. Guys are more open. So it’s been a more fun experience this year.”

But despite how talented the Warriors roster is, they will only go as far as Ferguson takes them. The 6-foot-4 point guard is committed to Georgia State and is going to play a huge role this season for the Warriors.

“As he goes, we go,” Douglas said of Ferguson. “We have a lot of really good guys, but it seems like when he’s locked in and engaged, we’re almost unbeatable. The trick is him finding that consistency every night.”

Grovetown’s schedule in the month of December will continue to be challenging, and they’re welcoming the challenge.

“That’s what we’re trying to do,” Douglas said. “We’re trying to schedule tough, build mental toughness and resilience for our kids so that we can make a run in the spring. That’s really the nuts and bolts of it, man. We’re just trying to pay the best teams that we can play.”