Despite the passing of time, Grizzlies coach Casey Gramling said he is still trying to get the bitter taste of defeat out of his mouth.
“The way our season ended last year was disappointing,” he said. “In our region (7AAAAA) championship game, we lost a three-point lead with 30 seconds to go. I know I have replayed that in my mind a million times, and the kids have, too.”
With that region championship loss to Sprayberry, Creekview ended up being the region’s No. 2 seed and had to face one of the top programs in Class AAAAA in the first round.
Now, two games into the 2013-14 season, the Grizzlies aren’t doing much to shake off the bad memories. They opened the season with a 56-50 loss to River Ridge, followed by a 72-46 loss to Woodstock.
Creekview is also coping with the loss of a large senior class that included Chandler Hamby, Damon Powers, Matt Leahy, Brandon Pressley and Beau Blackwell.
Gramling hopes the strength of the Grizzlies’ six seniors — Griffin Ghesquiere, Jared Johnson, Lane Barth, Corbin Stewart, Austin Graham and Jesse Wood — will give the team an edge when region play begins Nov. 30.
“They have done a good job getting us ready in the offseason,” Gramling said. “We had some of the best workouts that we have had, and some of the best conditioning that we have had.”
In addition to the seniors, Creekview has five juniors and two sophomores. Gramling said one of the biggest challenges for him early in the season will be finding which players should be in the starting lineup and who serves the team better in a reserve role.
Gramling said Graham and Ghesquiere have already cemented themselves in the lineup.
Ghesquiere is a fourth-year varsity player who had reconstructive ankle surgery in the offseason. He was recently released by his doctors to return to practice, and Gramling is hopeful that he will be at 100 percent by Christmas.
Graham, Guarang Desai and Cam Cox are guards. Graham, a three-year starter, is coming off a solid junior season. Desai is a point guard who is moving up from junior varsity for his junior season, while Cox also has talent.
“I am pleased with his leadership,” Gramling said of Graham. “What I like about Austin is that he wants to guard the best person on the other team. He is my defensive stopper. He plays to the best of his ability and is probably one of the best players in the county.”
Cox played in the Creekview feeder program while in middle school, but moved to Texas. Upon his return to the area, he rejoined the program.
“I thought, with him being a sophomore, he would be able to play JV and float a little bit dressing for the varsity, but after seeing him play for a couple of weeks, he is going to be competing for a spot in the starting lineup,” Gramling said. “He is probably the hardest worker we have. Having him around has made everyone else better.”
Looking down the schedule, Gramling expects Region 7AAAAA to be as competitive as ever. In addition to rival Sequoyah, Creekview will also have to contend with the talent of teams such as Kell, Pope and Sprayberry.
“We are still hoping to get back to that region championship and, this time, take the title with us,” Gramling said.