Grovetown boys basketball has earned their seat at the 6A table

Published: Mar. 9, 2022 at 7:10 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - In a GHSA 6A classification often dominated by Atlanta schools, Grovetown has proven they can run with anybody in the state.

The Warriors (28-3) are looking for their first state title in school history Friday as they take on Buford (25-6) in Macon.

Head coach Darren Douglas is no stranger to the big game. Back in 2018, he led Aquinas to its first ever state championship. Four years later, he looks to do it again with Grovetown.

“Our plan wasn’t just to make the state championship,” Douglas said. “Until that’s done, I don’t think nobody’s really relaxing out here.”

The attitude inside the Grovetown program has always been positive. You can see it on the sidelines as the players on the bench cheer each other on and fire up the crowd. You can see it in practice as the team claps non stop during drills.

But even as the Warriors began to stockpile wins, they never earned the respect across the state. They made just one appearance in the GHSA rankings, a 10th-place ranking in week 5.

“I just kind of knew that came with the territory,” Douglas said. “I always tell people I only care about one ranking and that’s the last one.”

That attitude has trickled down to his players.

“We don’t really worry about none of that outside talk,” said sophomore Derrion Reed. “We know how we are.”

The block-out-the-noise attitude is just one value coach Douglas has instilled on this group. With only two seniors on the squad, other guys have had to step up both with their play and their leadership. And it starts with their head coach.

“They give so much off the court and on the court,” Douglas said. “Whatever they need from me, I’ll give that to them.”

Leaning up against the scorer’s table at Christenberry Fieldhouse, Douglas watches as his guys go through practice, calling out the next drill and giving adjustments here and there. He’s very calm, mild-mannered, intentional.

“I promise this is like me outside of two hours on Tuesdays and Fridays,” he said with a smile. “This is how I am most of the time.”

For those two hours during games, Douglas’s competitive side comes to the surface. His energy is infectious, as we saw in the quarterfinal comeback against Wheeler. As Grovetown knocked off the Region 6 champs, Douglas was as animated as anyone on the sidelines.

His players love it.

“He’s just like one of us really,” said senior Jose Rodriguez. “That makes us feel comfortable being with him. He feels what we feel and he’s not even playing.”

“He’ll tell us when we’re wrong, congratulate us when we’re correct,” said Reed. “We feed off that energy.”

That energy has brought Grovetown within one game of a state title. As they get ready for Friday’s championship, nothing changes for Douglas and the Warriors. They’ll continue to prepare the same way they would as if this were the first game of the season.

The only difference might be after the game, should Grovetown bring home the title.

“I don’t even look at social media or any of that stuff,” said Douglas, talking about the lack of acknowledgement Grovetown has gotten this season. “If we win on Friday, I’ll look.”

Grovetown and Buford play at 7:30 Friday at the Macon Coliseum.

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