GREENVILLE – The 2019-2020 Greenville seventh grade boys basketball team completed the season with an excellent 13-5 record under Coach Ken Neff.
“We had a group of kids that enjoy playing the game, have some talent and worked within the system that Coach Joseph gave us to work within,” said Coach Neff. “Those kids have been coming to camp for several years and they believe in what we are doing – that was the big reason.”
The seventh grade team included: LB Bush, Kamdon Riethman, Layne Hocker, Mason Grimes, Braeden Wills, Owen McGreevey, EB Fall, Mason Bruno, Carson Good, Landin Domingo, Drew Hamilton and Eric Brenner.
“It was a lot of fun,” Neff said of the winning season. “The kids enjoyed coming to practice, they enjoyed the games, they enjoyed each other and they were very encouraging. Winning is nice but doing the things that it takes to win and coming out on top in difficult situations is a lot of fun.”
“Our motto this year based on our mascot Green Wave, using each letter: ‘Giving Relentless Effort Every Night With A Victorious Expectation’ – that was something we always talked about every game. That was nice to have that evolve into really what the season was all about,” Neff added.
A year earlier as sixth graders, the players competed on two separate teams doubling the number of players getting valuable playing time on the court.
“Both groups were well coached,” Neff said of the 2018-2019 sixth grade season. “The one group had a little more success than the other and that success continued as they came back together. They really took off from there and enjoyed each other. They were so unselfish and just enjoyed playing the game.”
With the two sixth grade teams combined for the 2019-2020 season, six players stood out on the team.
“When you see us it kind of starts with EB Fall,” Noted Coach Neff. “He’s a kid that just loves playing the game. If he’s not in the gym, he’s at Y. If he’s not there he’s playing where ever he can play. He enjoys the game, he enjoys getting better and he does not have an ego that prevents him from working to get better.”
“From there you’re looking at Drew Hamilton, just a great attitude and just a good solid player – Eric Brenner and Owen McGreevey.
“Hamilton and Fall were on one team last year and McGreevey and Brenner on the other, so those were arguably the four best players coming together and that worked really well.”
“Braden Wills and Mason Grimes, both good players, each on a different team coming in so you had Wills, McGreevey and Brenner coming from John McGreevey and Nathan Hunt’s team and then EB, Drew and Mason on the second team.”
Six GHS seniors recently completed their high school varsity basketball career. Most often high school varsity teams do not see six seniors making it to their senior season.
“The odds are you are not going to have all six of them playing, but all six of them could,” Neff said of the seventh grade players. “They all offer something that a varsity team could use whether it’s talent, speed, defense, just the love of the game because if you are going to play the game five more years which they would have to to be playing as seniors, you are going to have to love the game. To play at a high level that these kids are accustomed to, they are going to want to work at their game. If they don’t want to work at their game they are not going to want to play.”
Some little known facts about Coach Ken Neff:
Neff graduated from Ramapo Regional high school in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey where he played baseball.
Neff served three years as the head varsity boys basketball coach at James A Garfield High School located in Garrettsville, Ohio where he had season double digit wins.
“It was a very good team,” Neff noted. “Phil Warner had been the coach when I arrived. He’s a Vandalia-Butler and Bluffton University grad and played basketball at both of those schools. I coached with him and then he left after my first year. Seven years later I was coaching varsity.”
“It was a lot of fun, had some good players,” Neff said of his varsity coaching days. “We loved shooting the three-pointer which my kids would laugh at because we don’t shoot a lot of threes.”
Neff moved on to Springboro High School where he had an opportunity to coach the seventh or eighth grade boys program.
“I chose to coach the seventh grade because I wanted to get the kids as they first stepped into high school basketball,” Neff said. “Essentially seventh grade is when you first start following the rules of high school basketball”
“When I had an opportunity here at Greenville to coach I said I would like to do that same thing because I know how important it is to have a junior high program that follows the high school program,” added Neff. “You need to be successful with your program at that level. I knew as a head coach that our head coach would need a junior high coach that would be following his programs so I was excited to do that.”
Coach Neff shared his advice to fourth, fifth and sixth graders desiring to play basketball at the high school level.
“Younger kids they need to work on their ball handling with both their strong and week hand,” said Coach Neff. “They need to work on their shooting form and make sure that it is flawless and then get out and practice the game every day. As Coach Joseph always said,’ it’s the one game you can go practice by yourself.’”
“In this current environment (CoronaVirus), basketball is something kids can do with less than 10 people,” Neff added. “Just work on the game – the ball handling is huge. If you can handle the ball you can break a press, you can run and offense and if you can shoot you can score. Those are the things that have to be worked on properly, not just half.”
Coach Neff also had thoughts on parents, parents of his players this year and fans in the stands.
“Parents need to support their kids by being positive and they need to support the coach,” said Neff. “Our parents this year were great. They were very supportive, they were excited and they brought that enthusiasm to the kids. It was fun to come to the games – it was a nice environment.”
“As a coach you can encourage positive behavior by being positive yourself and keeping your focus on the game,” continued Neff. “Making sure in the locker room with the kids you’re not making the referees a target of why things didn’t go your way. Talking about what you can do on the positive end to change the outcome.”
“We had a good time this year,” Coach Neff concluded. “I want to thank Coach Matt Hamilton for what he did last year with his team, Coach John McGreevey and Coach Hunt with their team last year – that definitely was a big boost. Splitting the two teams was huge. That gave 10 kids an opportunity to get better.”
Greenville scored 711 points on the season while giving up 633 points. The team’s five losses came by a total of 21 points.
2019-2020 Greenville seventh grade average per game point leaders (6-minute quarters).
Drew Hamilton 12.4, EB Fall 9.5, Eric Brenner 9.4, Owen McGreevey 3.5, Mason Grimes 2.4 and Braeden Wills 1.3
PHOTO CAPTION: Greenville eighth grade coach Matt Hamilton looks on as seventh grade coach Ken Neff talks to his players during a timeout. (Gaylen Blosser photo)