The boys basketball team at William Monroe is getting ready for a trip to the Siegel Center. The Greene Dragons face Northumberland on Friday night at VCU in the Division 2 state quarterfinals.
Monroe brings championship experience to Richmond, even though this is their first state berth since 1995. Dragons head coach Mike Maynard just led the school's baseball team to a state title last spring, and their roster includes five players who were on that championship team.
"Baseball last year, we obviously were in states so some of these guys have experienced it, some haven't," said Maynard.
"I think it'll definitely help us. I mean, we went there before, it was a close game, and we managed to pull through last time, I mean so I think we can do it," says Austin Batten who plays infielder for the baseball team and guard for the basketball team.
Monroe was on a 16-game winning streak heading into the Region B final last Saturday. They fell to Dan River 52-50, suffering their first loss in month. Maynard says since then, his team has shown a new resolve.
"Yesterday, Markel Williams was a great leader in practice, and it's good when one of your best players is telling other people what to do instead of always hearing it from your coach. I was really impressed with his practice yesterday, and hopefully that will carry on for the rest of the week. We've got to have great practices to have a chance."
Dragons players say they're motivated by the loss, and hope to avoid that feeling the rest of the season.
"The talk has been we just, we're going to play as hard as we can from here on out and not let anything get in our way," says sophomore forward Jeff Early.
"It's the best place we could have lost. I mean, we didn't get the regional championship, but we still got the state berth," added Batten.
"We don't want that taste no more. We've just got to keep working hard in practice, and hopefully that we come out in practice and work hard, and hopefully we'll get the win on the court."
Maynard is now hoping his basketball team can bring Monroe its first title in 18 years.
"1995 was the last time actually, and they won the whole thing," he says. "I have to walk by that everyday, so hopefully we can do that."