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Greensville County junior varsity player Leonidis Thornhill drives to the basket as teammate Rahieem Hicks, No. 25, moves in the paint in a game last week against the Bluestone junior varsity.

Major League Baseball organizations have minor-league affiliates developing future players for for the big leagues. A few minor league players work their way through the ranks and eventually get to the top rung of the ladder.

High school basketball programs have their own feeder systems. Most Greensville County varsity players got their start in the program as players for E.W. Wyatt Middle School followed by a year or two playing junior varsity basketball at the high school.

“It’s important for kids to get the fundamentals down before they go up to the next level,” Greensville junior varsity basketball coach Michael Stokes said. “Our guys are working hard. We have a couple of guys that could be playing varsity right now, but they are getting their feet wet before they move up.”

While the junior varsity is a developmental level for the varsity, it’s also nice for the players to win while working toward a goal of playing for the varsity. The current crop of junior varsity players have been winning big since their days playing at the middle school. E.W Wyatt has won three consecutive championships and this year’s junior varsity is 10–2 overall. The only defeats came against Park View and Southampton. The Baby Eagles have also beaten both squads.

Last week Greensville junior varsity hosted Bluestone in a non-district clash and defeated the Baby Barons by a surprisingly large margin 53-25. The Eagles had a more difficult shaking Bluestone in Skipwith winning 52-44.

The return match in Emporia was a different story. DyQuarian Gary’s lay up less than a minute into the contest put Greensville in front 3-2. It was the start of a 13-0 run. Greensville’s 2-2-1 full court press to start the game created turnovers and easy baskets as the green and gold sprinted to a 14-2 lead after one quarter of play.

Stokes replaced the starting five midway through the first quarter and continued rotating players throughout the first half. The collection of six sophomores and six freshman took a 23-12 lead into the halftime break.

The Barons cut the margin under double-digits, with an Ernest Jones basket to start the second half, but the Eagles followed by finishing the frame with a 14-5 run to basically put the game on ice.

Ten Baby Eagles scored in the game — none more than the eight points from sophomore Leonidis Thornhill in a balanced attack. Freshman Daniel Alford finished the contest with two points, but his shot blocking created fast break opportunities and several uncontested lay ups. Serving as the head coach of the junior varsity at his alma mater is special for the 1997 GCHS graduate, who was a 2A All-State player and Region I Player of the Year during his senior season for a GCHS squad that finished 24-3 and reached the state quarterfinals.

“It’s a great thing to be doing this where I played,” he said. “For me it’s about giving back to the community and helping kids that want to play basketball become better players and move up to the next level.”

The Greensville County junior varsity basketball team is working hard to improve its basketball skills. Working on the fundamentals and and improving basketball knowledge while winning at the same time makes life the farm a little sweeter for the Baby Eagles.