With all but two players from last year’s Region IV, Division IV semifinalist back, Carroll County head coach Brad Hawks is hoping to get his team to take the next step in 2012-2013. A rugged non-district schedule that features three teams that have won state championships over the past two seasons will certainly help the Cavaliers prepare for the postseason.
An ambitious out-of-district slate will include two games against two-time defending Group A, Division 1 champion Galax, and one game each against defending Group AA, Division IV state champion Christiansburg and Virginia Episcopal, the 2011 state champion in the Virginia Independent Schools Division III ranks.
As in the past, Carroll County is scheduled to play a home-and-home series with Galax. The contest against Christiansburg is scheduled for Jan. 5, 2013 in the Chance Harman Classic at Floyd County. The Cavs are tentatively slated to play Virginia Episcopal on Feb. 2, 2013 in the Salem Civic Center in the Roy Stanley Memorial Shootout. Carroll County will also continue to play in the Fort Chiswell Christmas Tournament.
“I think it will be a good thing for us and it will be great exposure for our program,” Hawks said. “That gives us three opponents that are recent state champions, so I think that’s a pretty solid schedule.”
In order to get Virginia Episcopal on the schedule, Carroll County had to give up its regular season game against Radford this year. That shouldn’t be a big deal, Hawks said, as the Cavaliers could possibly face the Bobcats in the Fort Chiswell Christmas Tournament anyway.
“I’m excited. They called me and asked if we would play, and I told them I didn’t have any games left on my schedule,” Hawks said. “They told me Radford was going to play in it too if we wanted to play, so we both opted out of our regular season game thinking we may play in the Christmas Tournament anyway.”
Even if local sports fans aren’t familiar with the Virginia Episcopal program, most will be familiar with its head coach, former University of Virginia standout guard Curtis Staples. During his career with the Wahoos from 1994-1998, Staples’ NCAA Division 1 record of 413 career 3-point field goals stood for eight years. He was drafted by the Chicago Bulls in 1998, but choose to play overseas. Staples still ranks ninth on UVa’s career scoring list with 1,757 points.
“I don’t know a lot about them, but I would say there will be a pretty strong opponent,” Hawks said.
Last season, Carroll County went undefeated in the Southwest District en route to regular season and district tournament championships. Carroll finished 19-5 for the year, with its losses coming against Radford (twice), Pulaski, Galax and Hidden Valley in the regional semifinals. Hawks hopes a tough non-district slate will get his team better prepared for the postseason in 2012-13.
“I thought it would be really good for us because of the exposure you get from the tournament and getting to play at the Salem Civic Center. If we do play in the state, it would be there, and the teams that we would play would be similar,” Hawks said. “Teams from around Roanoke are very physical and play tough man to man. That’s what hurt us last year. When we went to Pulaski, Hidden Valley and Radford, all those teams play the same type of game.”
With so much coming back from last year’s team, there is a buzz around the Carroll County boys’ basketball program at the moment.
“I just hope we continue to build on last year. We have a lot coming back. We have a couple of seniors that have been here three or four years and I hope that makes a difference,” Hawks said. “We need people to step up and take the spot of Wes Smoot (a forward who graduated in 2012). We’re also looking for our big guys to step up and rebound a little more and help out our guards a little bit.”