It’s Game Time

Everyone anticipates the winning basket. (Photograph courtesy of Pixabay)

Everyone anticipates the winning basket. (Photograph courtesy of Pixabay)

Spirit Week is anticipated by many every year. With the dress down days, buyouts, special events, and, especially, this year’s basketball game against Greenville Tech Charter High School, students come together to show their school spirit. GTC is our biggest region rival, and that, therefore, makes this the big game everyone has been waiting for.

“As soon as the Spirit Week banners go up, I see my team start to get excited. I know they really enjoy and look forward to not only the big game, but the week as well. I think all the students really enjoy Spirit Week and I feel like our student section has been bigger this year than previous years, so I’m expecting a pretty big crowd at Thursday’s game. I know my team is excited about the game and I think other students are excited for it as well,” says Coach Stallard.

Greenville Tech is a very good team and we will have to push ourselves hard if we want to beat them. They won region last year and some expect them to win it again this year. Sophomore Zach Laird just recently transferred from Greenville Tech and played on their basketball team, and therefore has close connections with those players.

“GTC is really good and it’s going to be a good environment with a lot of people. It’ll be fun and I’ll be happy to see my friends again. It will be hard sitting there watching both teams I’ve played for, though,” says Laird.

Even though we didn’t win against Greenville Tech last season, Coach Stallard has confidence in how his team matches up against them.

“We’ll have to play very well to beat them. We compete with them fairly well. Last year we played two pretty good games against them. I look for my team to compete, play extremely hard, and do the best we can to win,” says Stallard.

Preparation for this game is crucial and having a few days to be able to really dedicate and prepare for the GTC game is very helpful for our team.

“Having played against similar teams with similar defensive levels as GTC is good practice for this game. Sometimes, we’re given specific plays or defenses for certain teams because Stallard has seen some of their strengths and weaknesses before,” says junior Austin Shotz.

Spirit Week is a very exciting week, but it can be difficult for players to fully enjoy because of the pressure of the game.

“Every year at Spirit Week, my team and I talk about enjoying the game, not getting nervous, and enjoying to play in front of their friends. I tell them to enjoy the game as well as the week that leads up to it, and to participate in Spirit Week events because I don’t want them to be so worried about the game that they don’t enjoy being a student this week. We want to win and our fans want us to win, but I remind them to enjoy it even if we don’t. However, the fun is definitely in the winning of the game,” says Stallard.

Skill and preparation are major parts of winning a game, but large crowds of fans also play a huge role as they get the players more excited and hyped up with the competition in front of them.

“The student section gives us more momentum when we do something good and encourages us to want to keep going even when we’re down,” says Shotz.

Not only do the students excite the players, but they also motivate them by their presence and their cheers.

“Our student section is always really great during Spirit Week and the players really enjoy it. It is very motivating for them knowing their friends are paying money to watch them do something they have worked hard for. My team always tries to play well for the fans that night. It motivates me and it motivates my team,” says Stallard.

Everyone on the team handles the cheers, yelling, and fans talking differently. They tend to block it out because they’re only focused on the game. They do what they have trained to do and block out the distractions.

“You don’t really hear anything when you’re playing; you just focus. I’m used to crowds with hundreds of people, so, when I play here, I don’t even think about it,” says senior Tanner Barnes.

Though players seek to block out the distractions, they can’t always avoid hearing all the noise.

“Communication can be difficult with all the noise, but we still really enjoy the excitement the crowd brings,” says sophomore Hayden Garbett.

Stallard often tells his team that it’s not always the best team that wins.

“I believe that the team that is the most composed and enjoys the crowd, moment, and environment is the team that wins. It’s not always the best team, but it’s the team that enjoys it rather than the team that gets nervous or distracted by it,” says Stallard.

Although many know this game may be a challenge, players have a positive outlook of what to expect.

“We have optimistic views heading into Thursday’s game as we feel it will be a really good, competitive game. Shooters shoot,” says sophomore Andrew Frazier.

Although many feel as though GTC is better than us, there is always still hope.

“We’ve beat them before, so I know we can do it. We just need to control the turnovers, control the pace, and make baskets,” says Barnes.

While Spirit Week is often seen as the most important game everyone wants to go to, do not forget that we have more than one home game. Supporting our team is huge for any game.

“One thing I hope for is that, at the Greenville Tech away game the following Tuesday, we will have a good student section. I like for our crowds to continue to come and to grow. It’s really good for my team to have that support even outside of a Spirit Week setting. One of our goals is to play well and enjoy it so that the people want to come back to our games,” says Stallard.