adidas promotional code Jefferson Forest on a roll as regular season winds down
A transfer from outside the Lynchburg area has infused them with life, but they’re getting production from all around the lineup.
It’s been a sudden and quiet rise to the top. The Cavaliers began the season by losing five of their first seven games. They appeared destined for another season near or at the bottom of the district. Glass, Heritage and Amherst in the Seminole, and Bedford County rival Staunton River from the Blue Ridge District.
The longtime underdog is now in full pursuit, tracking down the opposition and sniffing out one victory after another.
“No one in our district gives us respect,” said junior guard Brock Swaney, who put up 26 points in a win against Heritage last week. “No one will ever go into a game with JF and think they will lose.”
Swaney, who has become his team’s best defender, isn’t upset by that fact. Quite the opposite, actually.
Third year coach Cam Shepherd, who at 29 years old is the youngest boys’ basketball coach in the Seminole, won just a handful of times last season. But the William Byrd grad and former Randolph College sharpshooter made some adjustments this season and his team got into a rhythm. JF, he said, began the 2017 18 campaign without an identity.
“I don’t think we could look at ourselves and say ‘This is what we can hang our hat on,'” he said. “And when you have no identity as a team, it’s tough to win.”
Some of the basketball rebirth can be traced to the play of junior Jordan Richeson. The Alleghany transfer is averaging better than 19 points per game. Glass last week and has become one of the most feared players in the area with his ability to drive through the lane, knock down jumpers and get to the free throw line, where he’s shooting better than 80 percent.
“I didn’t know whether they were gonna accept me or not,” Richeson said about his new teammates, “but they’ve brought me in like I was one of their own.”
If there’s any Cavalier who can speak to the difference between the past and present, it’s senior Brad O’Donnell, in his fourth year on varsity.
O’Donnell sat out the first five games of the season with a nagging football injury and has endured some lackluster basketball seasons. Now, fans are packing the stands. There’s a buzz in the hallways. People are excited about basketball and the prospects of the postseason.
“It’s no surprise to us,” O’Donnell said of the streak. “We knew how talented we were going into the season. It just took a little while for us to jell and get to playing the way we needed to. But I think now that we’re on the uptick, we’re taking a lot of teams by surprise.”
To Swaney, the 2 5 start “just didn’t seem right.” He expected his team to hit its stride at some point.
Now JF might be streaking at the right time. This is the last full week of the regular season and the Cavs have three games remaining, all on the road, before the Seminole District Tournament begins.
That JF has made the run without 6 foot 8 center Trevor Robinson, out for the season with a foot injury, is even more impressive. Putting together any kind of winning streak in the Seminole, where there is plenty of parity, can be difficult, so Shepherd is both impressed and a little surprised. He drills into his players the importance of taking “what’s given to you, be able to read the situation and play with a purpose.”
“This group is able to do something we weren’t able to do last year, especially offensively,” he said. “I just think we’re trying to be solid. We’re trying to be patient and limit mistakes.”
Junior guard Perry Warner doesn’t focus on the streak. He prefers, he said, to think about the next game.
“It’s good we can finally get some respect,” Warner said. “That’s something we’re not used to. We’re usually like a football, baseball school. Nobody knows about our basketball team. So it’s good to put us on the map.”
And while Richeson, with his ability to score in bunches and distribute the ball, leads the team in scoring, one team stat stands out: Four different juniors have scored 20 plus points in at least one game this season.