2022 – 2023 FDHS Basketball Season Overview

Both the varsity and JV teams had very successful, winning seasons in 2022-23.  The varsity had a 14 – 10 season record, 7 – 5 in the Shenandoah District.  The JV record was 15 – 8, 11 – 3 in the District.  The varsity finished third in the Shenandoah District and qualified for Regional play, something that hadn’t been done since the 2021 – 22 season.  The JV team finished second in the District regular season and tournament.

Fort’s schedule this year was not an easy one.  The Indians played seven schools with larger enrollments (Monticello, Turner Ashby, Rockbridge, Broadway, Waynesboro, Wilson Memorial, and Staunton).  Only four schools were smaller (Stuarts Draft, Alleghany, Riverheads, and Buffalo Gap).  Other schools in the Shenandoah District scheduled some very small or weak schools so as to pad their records such as Grace Christian, Mountain View, Nelson County, Parry McCluer, Bath County, Rappahannock County, Luray, Appomattox, and Fishburne Military.

There were some really good wins for the varsity such as giving then-District leader Wilson Memorial its first loss, a 66 – 49 blowout of tall Liberty Christian Academy in the Region 3C tournament including 33 points from Tyreek, a 63 – 31 shellacking of Riverheads, Tyreek’s 37 point outburst in beating Buffalo Gap, two come-from-behind victories over Stuarts Draft, and double wins over big schools Turner Ashby, Rockbridge, and Monticello.  There were also some heartbreaking times such as the double overtime loss to Alleghany, the loss to Riverheads thanks to a buzzer-beating three pointer, and a three point loss to Buffalo Gap in which they scored only 29 points on a night they shot the ball miserably. 

Each player had at least one monumental game.  Tyreek’s 37 point night at Buffalo Gap was memorable as was Sam’s 24 point domination at Waynesboro.  Henry had 19 against Turner Ashby and drew 26 charging fouls during the season.  Kaden had 11 against Spotswood. And who can forget Alphonzo Bruce at Riverheads, who scored only six points all season, but got all six of them in one minute against the Gladiators.  In the Regional quarterfinal Tyreek exceeded 1,000 career points, just the 10th FDHS player ever to achieve this.

FDHS averaged 47.6 points per game.  A lion’s share of that scoring, 36 points per game, came from three players:  Tyreek, Sam, and Henry who averaged 17.3, 10.2, and 8.5 points per game, respectively.  All three made All-Shenandoah District:  Tyreek was chosen on the first team while Henry and Sam made the second team.

The JV team had a good season, record-wise.  I have to admit that they were a lot tougher to watch, though, because I get especially riled by turnovers and it seemed as though this team averaged at least twenty per game.  The Junior Varsity had some highlight games this year, too, including an exciting come-from-behind win over Wilson Memorial with the go-ahead basket coming in the final seconds on a highly contested layup by Jasigh Ransome.  They took undefeated Staunton to overtime and had a nice come-from-behind win over Stuarts Draft in the last game of the regular season.  They defeated Wilson in the Shenandoah District tournament and finished in second place behind Staunton.

The statistics from Hudl.com show what a good senior year it was for Henry.  Henry ranked fourth on his team in terms of minutes played.  Yet, among those who started, he had the best field goal percentage, best free throw percentage, fewest turnovers, third highest scoring average, tied for highest is rebounding, first in offensive rebounds, second in blocks, third in steals, third in assists, best assist to turnover ratio, highest number of charges taken, and was, by far, the highest rated starter using Hudl’s combined Value Point System rating.  Another website, http://www.maxpreps.com, had statewide statistics for schools which have submitted them to their site.  The site listed the top 200 players in each statistic (points, rebounds, etc.)  For the statistic charges taken, the state leader (from all school sizes), averaged 0.9 charges per game.   Unfortunately, Fort Defiance’s statistics were not submitted to this site.  Henry had 26 charges this year and thus averaged 1.1 charges taken per game.

For his career, Henry scored over 400 points for FDHS and made more than 50% of his two point field goals.  He made 72.5% of his free throws over the three years and took 52 charging fouls.  He got over 250 rebounds.  FDHS was 33 – 26 over the three years.  He scored in 58 of the 59 games.

Henry’s days as an Indian basketballer are now over but it was a superb one. He was a three year starter as a power forward. There are so many highlights of his basketball career: game winning scores as a sophomore helping FDHS win its first Shenandoah District title in 25 years, making 15 consecutive free throws as a junior, making 2nd team All-District both his junior and senior years, being team captain his last two years, taking over 50 charging fouls, double-double nights, etc. Sure, I’m sad his basketball days are over but I am most proud of his hustle, unselfish team-oriented play, sportsmanship, and year-round work ethic for basketball.  I can only hope these traits will accompany him in all his future endeavors.  He is such a deserving young man.

Gus still has two more years of high school to go. I can’t predict how those years will go though I do strongly believe he was underused again this year on the JV team.  Like Henry, Gus is level-headed on the court, not prone to unforced errors like most boys his age.  Neither boy has to be a star on the court to be a winner in my mind.  Both are just that. 

Last year I wrote in the 2021 – 22 season overview about how important high school basketball is in our family.  Perhaps I got that backwards.  Maybe I should have said how important our family is in high school basketball.  Both boys are lucky in that they have gotten tremendous support from their families as Indian team members. At almost every game there have been two parents, four grandparents, a brother, and a sister cheering them on. Often there were several other family members and friends in the stands just because they were on the floor.  Maybe we’re the lucky ones–how many grandparents get to experience what Allen and Susan Gutshall and Lynn and I have witnessed?  Each boy knew that regardless of the outcome of each game or how well each played or didn’t play, there would be family waiting after the game to tell each of them what a good job he had done. 

Who knows where each of these fine young men will end up in the future?  For now, I’m mighty glad they were on the Fort Defiance High School gym floor this year, each wearing jersey #42.  I am so, so proud of them.

-Joe Hill

PS: I did this project to give the players a memento for their years as an Indian basketball player.  When I was a high school basketball player 50+ years ago, each morning after a game my teammates and I would look forward to reading the newspaper about the game’s highlights.  Parents would clip the articles from the printed pages.  Unfortunately, the newspaper industry has changed since then.  In 2023, only a few of the Fort games were covered in any of the area newspapers.  So I decided to become an amateur sports writer; thus, this website emerged.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed watching and writing about FDHS basketball for the past three years.  The experience has been a highlight of my life.  I’ve watched every game, either in person or on the NFHS network.  I’ve celebrated every made basket, good pass, rebound, steal, blocked shot, and charging foul taken. I’ve groaned on every missed shot, grumbled when my grandsons were taken out of games (as any grandparent would), and roared about any official’s bad call made against them or their teammates. I’ve loved this experience.  

They didn’t make every shot nor win every game.  But they grew as players and as young men.  I’m extremely proud of them.