The young Mount Greylock boys basketball team is coming together through strong leadership.
Coach Bob Thistle said the early part of the season -- Greylock is 2-1 thus far -- is used to build experience. The Mounties are made up of players that are getting their first taste of varsity experience, so navigating early growing pains is key.
"The biggest challenge is getting experience. We have a lot of kids that are hungry and trying to prove to themselves to their school, and to their teammates, that they can play the game," Thistle said.
Thistle added that, while his team has no go-to player, it's a group effort when providing leadership and scoring on the court.
"We've gotten leadership from a lot of places," he said. "[Jake] Benzinger had a big game against Drury. We've gotten good guard play from Eric Hirsch, Jack Thistle and Taylor Carlough. [They've been] handling pressure and sharing scoring."
Seniors Cole Jackson and Robby Buffis, along with juniors Ian Brink and Mike McCormack, have also been key contributors throughout the season. However, at 6-foot-8, the development of sophomore Benzinger at center will give the Mounties a potential go-to option in the post.
Benzinger showed his ability Monday, scoring 17 points to lead Greylock to victory against Drury after trailing by nine at halftime.
"Its been a transition. Coach [Thistle] has had to have patience with us and he's been really supportive," Benzinger said. "The comeback win against Drury was a reminder that we're in it this year. It's only a matter of time before we all develop and we start playing really good basketball."
As teams start to collapse in the paint, Benzinger said his growth as a passer will help the offense flow.
"[My] coaches are making me aware that when the double team comes, I have to dish it out to our shooters. It's a big part of our offensive game," he said.
Development is the key phrase for Greylock. Even after winning two straight, Thistle preaches patience to his squad.
"There are teams that have one or two dominant players, but we're made up of players that make each other better. It's through experience. You can't wave a magic wand and make that happen," he said.
As the team continues to gel, one player that has stepped up as a vocal leader on the floor is Jackson. Benzinger credits Jackson with being a positive influence on the floor, always willing to offer support to his teammates.
With conference play approaching, the defending South champions are embracing the fact that they have so many new players.
"We're really trying to take a underdog approach," Benzinger said. "People aren't expecting a lot from us, but we're going to improve every day. We have great team chemistry and we don't have guys that want to score every play. We share the ball and that will bring us to the top."
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