Ashley Ridge seniors are looking to go out with bang
Some players who helped found the Swamp Fox basketball team are back for their final hurrah.
Three seniors on this year’s Ashley Ridge boys’ basketball team have been with the team since their eighth-grade year, when the school first opened its doors.
This year’s captains are fifth-year starter Romelo Doctor and four-year starter Fred Weeks. Both are multi-sport standouts who are good shooters. Doctor is the all-time leading scorer for the Swamp Fox basketball program.
“Those two bring a lot of leadership and a lot of experience to the table,” Ashley Ridge coach Brian Welch said. “They are the engine that moves the bus and they know it. I don’t have to say much to those guys. After being together so long they usually know what I’m thinking.”
D.J. Stevens also returns to the team for his fifth season. This year his role will likely be larger as he is being groomed for the starting point guard position.
“He has worked very hard and learned everything the position entails,” Welch said. “He can really run the show now. Basically, those guys have been through everything this program has ever been through. They have literally been a part of Ashley Ridge Basketball since it started.”
However, the key to the team’s success may be how some of its less experienced athletes perform.
“There are some old faces that have been around it seems since the dawn of time and there are some new guys who have recently joined the program who we will also be counting on,” Welch said. “It is an interesting dynamic. We have to get those groups working together so we can be consistent as a team.”
Welch says he is excited about some of the teams new post players. Leading the way so far at the position are seniors Mikey Goodwine and Vernon Moree. Goodwine is a former member of the team who sat out his junior season while this is Moree’s first season with the Foxes.
“Mikey has some rust to knock off, but he had a great summer and he is a great defensive player and unbelievable teammate,” Welch said. “Vernon is another great addition to a great group of kids. He has progressed quickly and is in our first five right now despite having to kind of learn on the fly.”
Senior Malik Graham, a returning letterman, and junior Don Smith provide depth in the post.
“In scrimmages they have given us really solid minutes,” Welch said.
Providing depth at the guard positions will be junior Sean White and sophomore Tray Jenkins. White is moving up from the JV while Jenkins was the point guard for the Ashley Ridge B-team last season.
Other members of the team are sophomore Raekwon Jones and juniors Donovan Thompson, Andre Grant, Joe Ridenour, Don Smith and Ben Crimmenger.
“I love our group and they all have tremendous character,” Welch said. “They are all team guys who don’t mind working. They have been working hard in the weight room so we are stronger physically than we were last season. Our biggest struggle is becoming more consistent in the way we play offensively and defensively, but that will come as everyone gets more comfortable with each other and with the things we want to do.”
After making the playoffs in their first season as a Class AAAA team, Ashley Ridge was edged out of the playoffs last season. They are hoping to return, but in order to do so they will have to take care of business in a tough region that is welcoming a new opponent in Bluffton this season.
“There are a lot of unknowns in our region so we have to focus on the things we can control, which is us,” Welch said. “We have to minimize our mental lapses. If we can do that, we can compete with anybody.”
The Swamp Foxes open their season Nov. 27 at Stratford. Their first home game is scheduled for 7 p.m. Dec. 7 when they will host Cane Bay. The team is only participating in one holiday tournament this season, The Lanier Christmas Classic to be held in Atlanta Dec. 27-29.