2021 – 2022 FDHS Basketball Overview

This section of my website was put together to honor Henry and Gus Gutshall, two of my grandsons, who played basketball for Fort Defiance High School in 2021 – 2022. Henry, a junior, played for the varsity where he was one of the team captains every game and a starter nearly every game. He was chosen as 2nd team on the All-Shenandoah District team. Gus, a freshman, played for the junior varsity where he sometimes was a starter and occasional team captain. Both boys played in every game this season. I am superbly proud of these two young men for how they played and conducted themselves throughout the season.

Henry and long-time teammate Tyreek Veney. Both made the All-District Teams: Tyreek was 1st team and Henry was 2nd team
Gus hitting a free throw against Buffalo Gap

High School basketball is important in our family. Henry and Gus are members of the fourth consecutive generation in our family who have played high school basketball and played it well. Their great-grandfather, George Hanger, was the star basketball player for Middlebrook in the 1930’s. Click here to read about his baseball and basketball accomplishments. The next generation had three family members who played high school basketball. I played on an undefeated state championship team at Bramwell (WV) High School in 1967. Truth be told, I was a substitute on that team though I played in every game. The following year, when I was a starter and team captain, we were District (Sectional) Champions and Regional Runners-up. Our record was 19 – 5. In that same generation, Bill Hanger, Henry and Gus’ great-uncle, was a great basketball player for Robert E. Lee High School in Staunton and went on to earn a basketball scholarship at Randolph-Macon College. Bill’s sister Kay Hanger Carter played basketball for Emory and Henry College. In the generation that followed, Henry and Gus’ aunt Kay Henry Hill was a three year starter on the girls team at Fort Defiance High School where she also won a school record six state championships in tennis and volleyball and was named as the Staunton/Waynesboro/Augusta County student athlete of the year. I am so happy that Henry and Gus are carrying on this tradition.

Henry had a fine year playing for the FDHS varsity in 2020 – 2021 as a sophomore. That abbreviated season was played under the shadow of COVID-19. Only parents were allowed to attend the games in person; the only way I could watch him play was at home via the NFHS network. For the first time in twenty five years, Fort won the District Championship that year. Henry started every game from mid-season on and played an important part in Fort’s District Championship. I created a booklet for him detailing every game that season; that booklet is now posted on this website (the last of the drop-down menu items).

Fortunately, the 2021 – 2022 season was held in its entirety despite COVID-19 and harsh winter weather. Their grandmother Lynn and I were able to attend every game, thankfully. It was a sinusoidal season with many ups and downs for both teams. The varsity ended with a 10 – 12 record and the JV’s with a 10 – 11 season. Both teams had highlight wins such as the varsity’s upset of district champion Wilson Memorial and the JV’s take-down of Staunton. Both teams also had games they would like to not remember such as the Waynesboro loss for the varsity and the playoff loss to Staunton in the Shenandoah District JV tournament for Gus’ team. It was certainly a learning year for both boys.

I began the year by writing my own sports articles about each of their games. I knew that I would want to produce something such as this website by the end of the season and noticed that there were no reporters attending nor newspaper articles about their early games. So I began writing my own and I have posted these, in addition to the articles from the Waynesboro News Virginian and the Harrisonburg Daily News Record, on this site. Click on the link to the Schedule and Results for either team then click on the opponent’s name and the article(s) will appear.

I did not continue that through the entire season. To be honest, the more I wrote the more agitated I got because, as their grandfather, I had a different opinion on how much they should be playing than their coaches did. I also got upset when some of their teammates committed multiple turnovers or didn’t pass to the open man. My agitation led to increased blood pressure, offensive language, and generally bad behavior on my part. The articles I wrote deteriorated into rants about the coaching staff or high school kids. So, at Lynn’s suggestion, I quit writing these articles two-thirds of the way through the season. And, by the way, I cut out the ranting paragraphs from my articles I posted to this site.

I am still convinced that their talents were underused and will not back off that premise. Henry was the second leading scorer on his team despite sitting out up to half of some games. He averaged almost 7 points per game. His free throw percentage was tops on his team (except for one player who only shot six free throws all season) and his team could have used that accuracy down the stretch in some games they lost as he sat on the bench. At one point he made 15 consecutive foul shots. In his last game this season, the loss to Staunton, he was Fort’s leading scorer with 18 points, making 7 for 8 from the field, including two three pointers, and 2 for 2 from the free throw line. He took, I believe, 27 charging fouls during this season. And he rarely turned the ball over with an errant pass. I acknowledge that I see his abilities through very biased eyes since he’s my grandson. By anyone’s eyes, he had a great season.

At the end of the season, the All-Shenandoah District teams were announced. Henry’s teammate since they were in elementary school Tyreek Veney was chosen on the first team and Henry on the second. I was SO delighted!

After the season was over, he shared with me statistics provided on hudl.com for the FDHS team. Incidentally, this is a fantastic service which not only accumulates statistics for each player but also archives videos of each one. For example, it showed that Henry had pulled 30 offensive rebounds for the year (tops on his team); I could click and see video clips of each one. Likewise, it showed that he had made 7 three point shots during the season; I could view a video clip of each of them on hudl.com. The statistics on this site proved my earlier assertion that he was underused. As a case in point, he was 5th on the team in terms of average minutes played yet second in scoring. His turnover percentage was the best on the team. His shooting percentage was second highest. Hudl.com had a rating system called Value Point System which assessed each player’s overall performance. Henry’s score was, by far, the best on the team.

Gus was also not effectively used, in my opinion. He probably played less than Henry played during the season though he had some games where he scored in double figures and had at least one double-double early in the season. In the district tournament semifinal, he was in the game for just a few minutes in the first half, scored four points, had a blocked shot and at least two rebounds. He had zero turnovers. These four points were more than 1/6th of his team’s total 23 points for the entire game. He was not in the game the entire second half except for one minute as his team went from being tied 23 – 23 to losing 43 – 23.

Both boys were dependable with the basketball. Both had superb field goal percentages. Both knew their teams’ offensive and defensive sets and did their part to execute what the coaches wanted. I know I am very, very prejudiced, but many other non-relatives noticed and told me that their teams just did better when they were on the court. One weakness is probably that neither one pulled enough rebounds per game to please their coaches.

I am not just proud of their ball handling, shooting, and defense. I am also proud of how they gave 100% in effort on the court and displayed superior sportsmanship. Both were team players, encouraging their teammates, setting screens, and making good decisions about shooting and passing. I still remember Henry leaving the court in tears at Broadway High School on the night his teammate for a decade, Tyreek Veney, had played and scored 28 points two days after Tyreek’s dad died. During the regular season, other players on both of their teams got technical or flagrant fouls called against them. Not Henry nor Gus. Their sportsmanship was much better than mine. Whenever a call went against them or one of their teammates my normal reaction was to loudly complain to the referees. It’s a grandfather’s right to do so, in my opinion. If fans could have gotten technicals then I would have earned hundreds of them this year.

Lynn and I spent more than twenty two nights this season watching Fort Defiance High School play basketball. It was time well spent. I’m happy to have published the articles, pictures, movies, and season data on this website to honor #42 and #44.

-Joe Hill

Henry with his grandmother Lynn