Ahead of the game

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Ahead of the game

Photo by: Hannah Abarca

Photo by: Hannah Abarca

Photo by: Hannah Abarca

Story by Ian Sullivan, reporter

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Javon Grant is the lone sophomore returning for the varsity basketball team.  

Grant, who has played basketball since he was 4-years-old, credits his style to players like former NBA star Allen Iverson.

Grant is currently the only sophomore starter on the varsity team and he also played a considerable amount of time as a freshman. Being the youngest player on the varsity team has forced Grant to develop quicker physically and mentally over this last year.  

“Since I’m a starting point guard, I [have] got to mature,” Grant said.

Grant attributes part of his success to senior Jerek Butcher, who has been one of his biggest mentors.

“I’m usually the one giving Javon advice because I’m the older one,” Butcher said. “I’m like his big bro.”

In a way, Grant is following Butcher’s footsteps, as Butcher started varsity as a sophomore, too.

He has accepted the role on what he needs to do and he pretty much took it and ran with it.”

— Jerek Butcher

“[Javon has] stepped up big, especially last year against Saint Thomas Aquinas when we needed him the most,” Butcher said. “He has accepted the role on what he needs to do and he pretty much took it and ran with it.”

Coach Kiley Roelfs has coached for the Dragons for 20 years, and this is now his second year coaching Grant at the varsity level. Roelfs had noticed how Grant has set himself apart from his teammates as early as his freshman year.

“Javon is very quick,” Roelfs said. “I think that’s what kind of gave him a chance to really separate himself from other players. He just has an unbelievable level of quickness that really allows him to get through defenses, get the ball up the floor and just gives us an added dimension offensively.”

In the past year, Roelfs has noticed how much Grant has improved.

“He worked really hard this offseason on his jumpshot and it has really paid dividends,” Roelfs said.” He’s shooting the ball a lot better than he did at this point last year. You don’t shoot the ball better unless you spend hours and hours and hours in the gym and Javon did do that this past offseason.”

According to Roelfs, one of Grant’s strengths on the court is his ability to control his emotions.

“Passionate,” Roelfs said. “Javon is a very passionate basketball player. He is a very emotional basketball player.”

Last year, the Dragons placed third in the state tournament and ended their season 24-4.  Roelfs looked back to last year and his favorite memory of watching Grant play.

“I would just go back to when we won the substate championship last year and all our guys, Javon was one of them. Jumping up and down and running all over the court with all that excitement,” Roelfs said, “and we’re working really hard everyday to try to add more of those type of memories as we move along.”

This season, the Dragons are currently ranked eighth in 5A boys. The Dragons are currently 12-3 and are working their way to return to the state tournament.

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