Home stretch: Charles Henderson gearing up for the start of postseason play

Published 7:12 pm Wednesday, January 30, 2019

The Charles Henderson Trojans are eager to host their second consecutive area tournament.

The Charles Henderson boys’ basketball team finished off their 5-1 area record last Friday evening when they knocked off Rehobeth.

A win, coupled with a win for Greenville, forced a tie in the Area 3 standings. The two teams participated in a coin flip to determine who will host the tournament. The Trojans won the flip, allowing them once again host the tournament.

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“It’s great news,” said head coach Doug Branson. “We started back on October 1 and we were going to get at least one percent better every day. The guys have bought into it and they have bought into our program. It’s paid off.”

The Trojans played a tough schedule in the early months of the season. A schedule that featured schools in both 6A and 7A.

“We won some games, lost a few games, but it toughened and hardened us for conference place,” Branson said. “We were able to win five conference games and it gave us an opportunity to be involved in the coin toss and fortunately we came up on the better side.”

The Trojans had just four players return from last year’s squad that hosted the area tournament. Keonte Brantley and Keith Wheeler are two of the few returners for the Trojans and both of them have been made an impact during the regular season.

After a slow start, Brantley has been a key player for the Trojans in area play.

“Both young men have performed well for us,” Branson said. “They have been consistent for us. I think Keonte started maybe a little slow, but once he got going, he has been a staple for us every ball game. Rebounding, passing the basketball, being in the right places on defense – he has a high basketball IQ. He provides stability.”

Wheeler has been looked at to play quality minutes while providing a spark on defense.

“I probably put as much on him defensively as any person on the team,” Branson said. “He has handled it with grace and style. He has adjusted to what I have asked him to do. He is a center piece of our zone defense and our press.”

The harder schedule has provided Branson the opportunity to play his many new faces in different roles this season.

“It helps us define roles and responsibilities,” Branson said. “We have a second-leading scorer on our team and he comes off the bench. He has accepted that role. We have other guys that provide depth at certain positions. Nobody has hiccupped on any of that. They have bought into it. They do it and no matter what is going on, the name on the front of the jersey is more important than the one on the back.”

The Trojans and Greenville finished on top of the area with Carroll and Rehobeth finishing third and fourth in what was a competitive area throughout the second-half of the season. All four teams in the area are very familiar with one another, making the challenge that much more daunting.

“I think in any league anywhere, playing on the road is going to be tough for everybody,” Branson said. “When you get into conference play, it becomes a familiarity thing. You have seen these teams and they are able to get more film on you. Carroll started the season and it wasn’t very good. Since Christmas they have been playing very well. They have been a tough out in every game they have played. The area tournament is going to be interesting.”

If they want to win their second-consecutive area championship, they are going to have to knock off at least one opponent for the third time this season, something that’s not easily accomplished.

“It’s tough to beat anybody three times,” Branson said. “First up is Rehobeth and we beat them by double digits both times. Them coming in a third time, you hope that your guys are ready to go the way they need to go.

“It’s all about who can execute their system the best. I’ll make some tweaks, I’m sure they will make some tweaks. But, at the end of the day, can the Charles Henderson Trojans be the Trojans in a way that we need to be to win the game?”

The Trojans and Rebels will begin play on Tuesday beginning at 7 p.m.