By KEVIN HARRIS
When Borden graduated four of its starters — Billy Kirchgessner, Jalen McCoy, Michael Lynch and Cody Bachman — from last year’s Class A state championship team, the Braves immediately turned to one player for leadership and guidance.
That player was Garrett Vick, the lone returning starter for this season’s Borden boys’ basketball team.
The 6-foot-1 senior forward and his teammates will begin their quest for a third consecutive sectional championship tonight when they play Rock Creek Academy in the Class A Borden Sectional semifinals. The Braves received a first-round bye.
All season, Vick has provided the Braves tons of leadership both verbally and through his actions on the court. He leads Borden in scoring (12.8 points per game) and rebounding (seven boards per game) this year.
Eighth-year Braves’ coach Doc Nash has been pleased with how Vick has performed during the 2013-14 campaign.
“He’s having a good season,” Nash said. “In a lot of close games, he’s done everything we need him to do. In terms of leadership and competitiveness, it’s what we expected out of him to get us going. He’s done very well in that role.
“He’s learned how to play the game instead of just using his physical attributes. He’s learned to let the game come to him a little bit.”
Nash thinks Vick has adjusted well in becoming one of the Braves’ leaders. Vick also is a leader off the court, as he is president of his senior class.
“He’s done a tremendous job with that,” Nash said about Vick’s leadership skills. “He accepts challenges on both ends of the court. He’s going to be greatly missed after the year is over, both on and off the court. He’s a good kid upstairs in the hallways. My kids look up to him.”
The Vick name has been a popular one in Borden High School athletics for decades.
Vick’s father, Donnie, helped the Braves’ baseball program win its first sectional championship in 1972. Garrett Vick’s three older sisters — Brandi, Jessica and Brittany — all played sports at Borden.
Garrett’s older brother, Matthew, competed for the Braves’ baseball and boys’ basketball teams during his high school days.
Garrett Vick, who is a pitcher and shortstop for the Borden baseball team, hopes to join his father and brother as members of a third Braves’ sectional championship team this spring. Matthew Vick helped Borden win its second sectional crown in program history in 2006.
On Tuesday afternoon at the BHS gymnasium, sports writer Kevin Harris talked with the youngest member of the Vick clan about this week’s sectional, the senior’s family and other items as the News and Tribune continued its “On the Spot” series.
• QUESTION: What do you think are the keys for your team to repeat as Class A sectional champions this week?
• GARRETT VICK: “We’ve got to play our best game because lately we haven’t been playing smart. We know from last year that we played smart and didn’t turn the ball over that much and hit free throws, and that’s what helped us win it.”
• Q: How do you like having the first-round bye in the sectional this year?
• VICK: “This is my first year having the bye. In my first three years, we always played the first game [of the sectional] or the second game on the first day. Coach hasn’t had [a bye] since he’s been here, so I don’t know [with a laugh].”
• Q: Your team has a 16-4 record and won the outright Southern Athletic Conference title again this season. Are you and your teammates happy with what the team has accomplished so far in the 2013-14 campaign?
• VICK: “We’re kind of happy. There were a couple of games that we blew that we should’ve won, and there were some games where we couldn’t make a shot to save our lives. We’re hoping to get prepared this week because whoever we play on Friday night [Rock Creek], we’ve got to make the wide-open shots and play smart. If we don’t, then the seniors are done.”
• Q: You are the only returning starter from last season’s Class A state championship team at Borden. How much have you stepped up your leadership role on the squad this year?
• VICK: “I’ve stepped up quite a bit. Whenever we need a bucket, I try to be the first one to score. But really I try to teach the younger guys on what to do and how to attack people, and teach the other seniors and give them advice to be better leaders. Our other five seniors have stepped up as well and taken a lot of pressure off me.”
• Q: When you reminisce about winning last year’s state championship in the next several years, what do you think you will remember the most about that experience?
• VICK: “We wanted to win it for Grandpa [Ed] Kirchgessner, Billy Kirchgessner’s grandpa. That played a big role for us. I just wanted to carry that on to this year because he was like a grandpa to me. I’m hoping that this year we are going to get another taste of it.”
• Q: Has the experience of going through last year’s state title run helped you become a better leader for this season’s team?
• VICK: “I saw [the four seniors] in practice last year and they loved to compete. That’s what made me want to play a lot harder this year and be a lot more aggressive and be harder on my teammates. There are times when we’ll bump heads, but it’s for me to get them better. In watching the seniors last year, they put everything into it to win a state championship, and I want these guys to put everything they have and leave it out there.”
• Q: I know you mentioned in the preseason that your team is going to have a target on its back and get every opponent’s best shot this season. What has it been like having that target on your back?
• VICK: “Everybody has shot really good. The Salem [2-19] game [on Feb. 28, which Borden won 45-42], you can’t look at people’s records like that. They might have lost all those games. But they came out and competed and knocked down big shots, and we couldn’t. It’s been like that all year. There have been a few games where we’ve played really, really great, and there have been some games we’ve played really awful.”
• Q: Your family’s name is well-known in Borden. How much pride do you have in being a Vick?
• VICK: “Coming into high school my freshman year, my brothers and sisters all set big goals and I wanted to be able to beat that. I wanted to win sectionals in baseball and win sectionals in basketball. I wanted to make sure that I won something that they’ve never won before.”
• Q: Describe the competition between you and your brothers and sisters. How competitive does it get?
• VICK: “My whole life, I’ve been competing against my brothers and sisters. We always play basketball and baseball. In any sport — you name it — we want to beat each other. My brother would always push me to the limit. When we played basketball, he would move the goal down. He wouldn’t let me score a single point, and he would just love to dunk on me and make fun of me to make me better.”
• Q: What are some of the advantages and disadvantages in being the youngest in the family?
• VICK: “I probably got my way most of the time if I went to my mom and dad and one of [my siblings] were picking on me. But now that [his siblings] are older and they’ve got jobs, I love Christmas time and birthdays. They treat me really good. They always tell me that I’ve got it easy in school and home. They tell me that mom and dad don’t make me get a job during basketball season like they had to.”
• Q: Do you have a preference between baseball and basketball or do you like both?
• VICK: “I love them both the same way. I know baseball is more of a slow-down sport. It’s not very high scoring like basketball. Basketball is more up-tempo and has more people. But I enjoy them both.”
• Q: Have you made any college plans yet after you graduate from high school?
• VICK: “I’m still undecided. I haven’t made up my mind yet if I want to play basketball or baseball.”