Defense key in a 2-2 start

Published 9:32 am Wednesday, December 19, 2018

The young and inexperienced Randolph-Henry High School junior varsity boys basketball team has started the season solidly, going 1-2 in non-James River District games and 1-0 in the district to be off to a 2-2 start.

The Statesmen opened their 2018-19 season with a 42-24 home loss to Amherst County High School on Nov. 27. Three days later, they toppled host Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School 33- 25, and on Dec. 4, they edged host Bluestone High School 49-47. On Dec. 7, the Statesmen visited Bassett High School, a Virginia High School League Class 4 team, and fell 61-51.

Randolph-Henry Head Coach Mark Heintzleman noted how the change at the top of the school’s boys basketball program has affected his team. The varsity team’s head coach, Josh Haskins, is taking over for veteran leader James Graves, who retired from coaching the team. Haskins helps provide some continuity, since he was an assistant to Graves for the last few years, so his program-wide instructions have not been radically different.

“With Coach Haskins being the new head coach, nothing has really changed on the defensive side of things, but we have changed up some things on the offense,” Heintzleman said. “… What we focus on primarily is defense. That’s kind of how it’s always been.”

Elaborating on the teaching process with his young squad, the coach said, “We’ve had to learn not only a new offense but also how to play defense. A lot of these guys, when they come up, they don’t understand how to play team defense. They’ve only ever played one-on-one defense, especially those that haven’t played organized ball.”

He said defense was the deciding factor in his team’s two victories so far.

“At Bluestone, we had some good ball pressure, really good ball pressure, that forced them into some situations they didn’t want to be in, and we took advantage of that, and we got some good fastbreak opportunities,” he said.