2009-12-11 / Sports

Devils defensive chemistry is key

By Mark Lawrence

Dreher’s Chris Brown Dreher’s Chris Brown For the past few seasons, the Dreher boys basketball team had an insurance policy: Aaron Johnson. The shot–blocking machine routinely saved the Blue Devils from defensive breakdowns or unsuccessful gambles.

However, Johnson graduated and took his 93 blocks last season with him.

“Our team relied on that, but it also made us a weak rebounding team,” Dreher coach Jon Richards said. “This year we know we are not going to get those blocks, so we have to stick with our defensive assignments and work as a unit. Rebounding is going to be the key because we are not going to be bigger than anybody we play.”

However, Dreher might be able to outshoot most of the teams it plays.

“This is by far the best shooting team we’ve had since I’ve been around,” said Richards, who is beginning his fifth season with the Blue Devils. “As good as we’ve been, it is hard to say its better, but it is as is our chemistry on defense. Right now, we are definitely better than the sum of our parts.”

Richards has a variety of parts to use including eight seniors on the 13–player roster.

Senior guard Dominic Boyd (6–1) and senior forward Chris Brown (6–4) are the two returning starters. Junior guard Quayshun Hawkins (6–1, 13 points per game avg.) played starter minutes last season and should start along with senior point guard Derrick Halback (5–11).

“Derrick pointed out recently that last season when we were full strength, we didn’t lose any games,” Richards said. “It was when we had injuries or grades issues that we didn’t do real well.”

Nowhere on the court is staying at full strength more critical than in the paint. For while the Blue Devils are deep at guard, they have just three players taller than 6–2.

Junior Tyler Harris (6–3) has the inside track in the post, although he is being pushed by senior Phillip Wells (6–4).

If Harris and Wells stay on the court, Dreher is likely to live up to preseason expectations; it was the unanimous pick to win Region 5–3A among the region’s coaches. Internally, the Blue Devils seek to improve on last season’s 19–6 (10–0 region) record and second– round appearance in the state tournament.

“Getting farther in the playoffs is realistic,” Richards said. “But when you talk about how far you go in the playoffs as defining your success, you shortchange yourself on a lot of other opportunities for success along the way.”

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