Cherokee began its 2013-14 schedule successfully with a win over Sequoyah, but Kvam believes that Region 5AAAAAA will be a battle with teams likes Etowah, Wheeler, Walton, Roswell, Milton and Woodstock ahead. Not only that, but the Warriors have non-region games with Harrison, Sequoyah, Creekview and Centennial scheduled.
Aside from knowing the season will be a challenge, there are a few other things that Kvam will say about his team.
“Last year, I said it was the first time in 27 years of coaching that I had no size because none of them were taller than me,” Kvam said. “So, it was an interesting year. We will be a lot like that again this season.”
The Warriors essentially started five guards last season and finished with an 18-11 record and an appearance in the Class AAAAAA state playoffs.
“We beat some good teams along the way,” Kvam said, referencing wins over Wheeler, Walton and Milton. “They exceeded all of my expectations when we started the year and we have them all back except for one, who play in our top seven.”
Seniors Ja’Davin Keith and Zack Kvam return, along with junior Jeremiah Gill.
Keith, a starter since he was a freshman, led the team in scoring last season and is a solid rebounder. Kvam is a talented shooter from the perimeter, while Gill was one of the top assist men. All three are solid defenders.
“We have a good group of guys coming back,” Roger Kvam said. “I’m very excited. We’ve had a few good weeks of practice. I think the biggest difference from in our team from last season to this season is that they have worked hard on their individual skills. We have better shooters now. They are better ball-handlers. The overall skill level has increased.”
Kvam said the increased skill level has come through some friendly competition. Each of the players want to be the best that they can be. They compete against one another in practice to prove themselves.
“They are a close-knit group,” Kvam said.
The challenge that remains for the Warriors is overcoming their lack of size. Matchups against taller players is something that the team can’t duplicate in practice. It will only be in games that they face opponents who are taller than 6-foot-1.
“Last year, when I told people we had all guards, they said, ‘Oh, you must press a lot,’ but we didn’t because we only had six kids,” Kvam said. “This year, we have more guys who can contribute, so we can put on some defensive pressure a bit.”
Cherokee faced region rival Etowah on Friday and will play in the South Forsyth Thanksgiving tournament next week.