Shawnee junior guards Jaden Greenwood and Andrew Tincher dared to dream as freshmen.
“Andrew and I looked at each other freshman year and we kind of made a joke of trying to go four for four because we knew we had the talent to do it the first year,” Greenwood said.
Four for four refers to Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail Division titles. The Braves (16-5, 8-2) made it three straight last Friday with a 10-point win over second-place Tecumseh.
“Now we’re sitting three for three, and so I guess it is possible,” Greenwood said.
A three-peat did not look promising after a fourth straight loss on Jan. 4 left the Braves at 4-4 overall and 2-2 in the CBC. But the Braves responded with a win at Tecumseh, where they hadn’t won at since 2010.
“We really came into our identity in the win at Tecumseh,” Greenwood said. “We got great play from everybody there. That was kind of a turning point when we realized our roles and guys started stepping up, even doing the little things that don’t show up on the stat sheet.”
Greenwood, who averages 16.9 points, was scoring over 20 a game early in the season. But when others began to score more, the Braves started winning. After the Tecumseh win they lost at Springfield, but have since won 11 straight entering Wednesday night’s season finale at Greenon.
“Once we got that victory [at Tecumseh] that instilled the confidence and, ‘OK, we can do this,’” Braves coach Chris McGuire said.
Once the Braves clinched the league title, they adopted a tournament mindset. They open Division II sectional play Saturday at Springfield High School at 4 p.m. as the No. 3 seed against No. 12 Northwestern.
“The teams that make the run and get out of the sectional are the teams that are playing their best,” McGuire said. “They haven’t peaked yet and are continuing to get better. And I hope we’re in that conversation.”
The Braves have won three sectional titles in the past five years, but have yet to win a district game. Last year they ran into Dunbar at UD Arena.
“The ultimate goal would be to make it back to UD,” Greenwood said. “And, who knows, maybe win a game at UD.”
Shawnee’s 46-44 victory over visiting Urbana on Tuesday night had a tournament feel in a kind of unofficial CBC championship game. Urbana won the CBC Mad River for the third straight year and is the No. 1 seed in Shawnee’s sectional.
The victory was also No. 136 at Shawnee for McGuire and made him the winningest coach in Shawnee history. In his ninth season, McGuire is 136-65 and has won 15 or more games seven times. He surpassed Dale McDonald who was 135-110 from 1972-85.
“It’s a great honor,” McGuire said. “It probably means that I’ve been around longer than most of the coaches here, and that I’ve had great players.”
Greenwood says it’s more than that.
“He’s one of if not the best coach in the area,” Greenwood said. “In practice he strives for us to get better every single day. And I think that’s what’s given him a lot of success here.”
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