- Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 December 2009 18:20
- Published on Wednesday, 02 December 2009 18:20
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Colonial Beach High School basketball is headed in a new direction. Now that Casey Johnson has taken over the helm as varsity head coach of boys’ basketball in the absence of Steve Swope, the Drifters will journey in a new direction.
Now that the Drifters have assured themselves of basketball immortality by winning a state championship last season, fans of the “Black & Gold” will have high expectations of any Drifters basketball team.
Will Johnson or any coach in the area affect a sports organization in the manner that Swope has over the last 30 years? It’s highly doubtful, but Johnson is a talented coach capable of motivating his team to play beyond their true potential.
“We have 10 solid players, but I really lucked out with the team I’ve got,” Johnson said during a recent practice at the Drifterdome. “Everybody has a great attitude and that’s a huge advantage to have when you’re stepping into your first year of a program.”
Prior to accepting his new position, Johnson served as an assistant in the Drifter varsity and junior varsity program. He also served as a head coach for Atlee High School (triple-A) in Richmond, coached at Maris High School in Atlanta, and as an assistant coach under his father, Bob Johnson. Casey’s father coached basketball for 28 years at Emory & Henry, becoming the most successful coach in ODAC history.
From 1988 to 1993, Bob Johnson produced Hall of Fame-like numbers, leading the Wasps to the NCAA Division III tournament five times, including two trips to the Sweet 16 in ’88 and ’93.
The question most fans are asking is can the Drifters duplicate the success of last season’s team? After losing seven seniors to graduation, including their Group A All-State, all-time scoring leader TT Carey and entering an entirely new division, in the form of the Northern Neck, Johnson’s task of reloading his team for another run at a championship in any form will be difficult.
However, given the tradition and innate nature of the Drifters, it would not be wise to take them lightly. Although they are short on depth with 10 players, they are fast, and execute well as a team. Returning to the team will be Dylan Farinet, Paul Roberson and Joe Slater. In terms of point production, assist and rebound production, Farinet is a solid go-to-guy.
“We’re trying to win every game, and I have dreams of winning a state championship — it could be this year — you never know,” Johnson said. “Presently we are trying hard to build this team, and because we have only 10 players, everyone will have to contribute.”
Peering into the Drifters’ future as they prepare for battle in the Northern Neck, every team from Lancaster to Northumberland will be tough. Lancaster competed in the state tournament last season; they return most of their veteran players. The 22-game schedule will not be a walk in the park.
“We’re going to play hard and compete — and not back down from anybody,” Johnson said.
Leonard M. Banks