By Dan Connell / Staff Writer
WILLIAMSBURG — When the Williamsburg Yellow Jacket football team began a deep run in this year's playoffs, Patrick Robinson was beginning his quest to capture success of his own for the Yellow Jacket basketball squad.
The eighth-year head coach initiated practices with a very small, limited number of players due to the absence of those who were competing for a state championship on the football field.
Fast-forward to mid-December and the Yellow Jacket basketball roster is complete, but the total number of players in uniform remains incomplete.
According to Robinson, the student-athletes who came from the football field are making tremendous progress on the basketball court and appear ready to help the Jackets on the hardwood. However, injuries have currently hampered the Jackets in the early season.
“We started with two varsity players and now are up to about eight or nine,” Robinson said. “We still are pretty much short handed with the loss of Skyler (Griffith) and Hunter (Sulfridge) and we are hoping to get those two back soon after the new year.”
Griffith suffered a broken foot during the state semifinal playoff game and Sulfridge is healing from a high ankle sprain. Robinson mentioned the loss of both players makes it difficult to compete against opposing teams.
“It's really challenging to play these varsity teams without those two,” Robinson said. “Once we have everyone healthy we will be much better and much more competitive against the good teams.”
Robinson discussed conditioning and shooting as two key elements that he will monitor as the season progresses.
“We will get in better shape and our shooting will continue to improve as the season goes on,” he added. “Getting the legs underneath of the guys who played football is always the most important thing.”
Coming off the heels of a state championship appearance, coach Robinson elaborated on how the experience could translate from the football field to the basketball court.
“The football state championship really is all together different,” Robinson said. “Even though most of our kids played football, basketball is just so much different. Physically and mentally it's just a different game, but I do hope that it will bring confidence and a great work ethic to the team.”
Coach Robinson also commented on a recent injury to Chase Lowrie, who left the game against Bell County in the first quarter with a back injury and did not return.
“It's really frustrating when you can't work on the things you need to work on and with the amount of injuries that we have, it just puts us in a bad spot,” Robinson said. “Chase has had some back problems in the past. I'm not sure how serious it is, but I know he was in a lot of pain, but Chase is a tough kid so we'll see what happens.”
Despite the injuries, Robinson continues to look for ways to have his squad prepared for battle as mid-season approaches.
“We have a very long way to go,” said Robinson. “I am treating December like it's October for us. We have to use this time to get better and improve and not worry about wins and losses, but about getting in shape and improving so we can be on our game for district play.”
Robinson is expecting to have all players in uniform by mid-January as he expects Griffith and Sulfridge to possibly be ready for action.
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