By Dave Morrison
Register-Herald Sports Writer
It’s not exactly the return of the White Squad/Maroon Squad, but there is no denying the contribution from Woodrow Wilson’s bench so far this postseason.
Anyone who knows Woodrow Wilson basketball’s recent history will recall the White Squad/Maroon Squad from the 2003 season.
Coach Ron Kidd was so confident in his deep squad, he would wholesale substitute — bringing in the Maroon Squad — or a second team — for the White Squad — or starters.
But that was a season-long situation.
Kidd pretty much stuck with a seven-, or eight-man rotation earlier this year, with Ta-Ron Ayers and Steve Lewis seeing most of the time off the bench. Donte Nabors, a sophomore starter at the outset of season, pretty much returned to the bench at the beginning of January and appeared late in games, if at all.
But near the end of the season, Kidd started gaining confidence in his reserves and that confidence resulted in more playing time for players coming off the bench.
Expect that trend to continue tonight when the Flying Eagles (19-5) face George Washington at 7 p.m. in the Class AAA Region 3 co-finals at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center.
What remains to be seen is if the bench production will continue.
In its two postseason wins, Ayers, Lewis and Nabors have gone into double digits scoring in each game.
Nabors is averaging 14.5, Ayers 13.0 and Lewis 10.5 in the two postseason wins over Riverside and Greenbrier East.
“We always tell our guys to be prepared to take advantage of the opportunities they get, and those three right there have stepped up and taken advantage,” Kidd said. “I’ve always said that all the guys on our bench can play. We feel like have a deep bench. Not just those three but also Chase Hancock, John Fadiga, Nick Deems, Ramon Edwards, Brent Osborne, all these guys can do something to help this team.”
It’s no surprise that Ayers plays as many minutes as anyone. He has started a few games this season and was a starter last year and averages in double figures for the Eagles.
Lewis, too, has appeared in all of the Flying Eagles games. But his point production has shot up in the postseason.
After averaging just over two points per game through 21 games, he has scored 29 in the past three.
And Nabors has really come into his own, after being a starter, to deep reserve and now to a fixture off the bench.
The son of assistant coach and former Flying Eagles’ star Gene Nabors has gone off to the tune of 12, 12 and 17 in his last three games.
“These guys have shown a real will to do whatever it takes to help us win games,” Kidd said. “There are times when they look as good as the first five. I think they change the whole tempo of the game. They speed things up and they create opportunities off their defense.”
The return of the Maroon Squad?
“I don’t know if I want to say that,” Kidd said with his typical chuckle. “I’ll just say that when we put them in there, they’ve been making things happen. We hope they keep it up (tonight).”