Hours before Cherokee Bluff High is expected to take the floor for tipoff, junior Griffin Neville likes to get his head in the game — well, listen to a high school basketball inspired tune about said mindset.
Even in the era of Drake, Migos and Cardi B, the shooting guard for Cherokee Bluff prefers the Disney Channel classics. He revealed the soundtrack to “High School Musical” as his go-to playlist to blast in the earbuds during individual shooting drills at the high school gym.
“It has the best music ever. It is my all-time favorite movie, and I dunno why, but it gets me pumped up a little bit,” Neville said as he laughed.
If it worked for Zac Efron in the film, why not him too?
Known as the team “gym rat” to his coach and peers, Neville has no shame in admitting his pre-game ritual, not to mention putting in those extra reps. And that was certainly the case Monday.
“He works at it,” Bears coach Benjie Wood said of the 6-foot-2 Neville. “(Monday night’s) game started at 6:30 (p.m.) and he was in the gym at 11:30 (a.m.) with his headphones on shooting, getting ready for the game. Most of the people don’t see the work he puts in as far as developing his skill in shooting the ball.”
It paid off in the hours to follow.
Neville went on a tear against Denmark as he racked up 36 of his game-high 39 points in the second half, which included five 3-pointers, in the Bears’ 94-86 loss.
For his efforts, Neville is the Times Athlete of the Week.
“Griffin can score in bunches, and when he gets in a rhythm, he can score a lot at a time,” said Wood, who also coached Neville at Gainesville High last year. He certainly played well in the second half.”
The third quarter started a little rough, said Neville, but it wasn’t long before he was off to the races. Neville did a chunk of the damage along the perimeter as he knocked down his bevy of treys to help the Bears keep chase with the Danes in the second half.
“It’s a lot easier when our point guards are out there looking for me, and my teammates are looking to get me the ball and give me those shots so I can get in a rhythm,” added Neville. “If my point guards give me good looks, it’s going to be a good night. I’m always thankful for my teammates.”
While applauding Neville for his efforts, Wood indicated others who chipped in some big minutes too. Point guard Bosko Norman (19 points) and shooting guard Palmer Weaver (14) were the other two to score in double figures for the Bears (1-1) in Monday’s high-scoring affair.
Wood pointed to the defensive side as the area to address before Cherokee Bluff hosts Monroe Area next Tuesday night in Flowery Branch. Tipoff for the girls game will be at 6 p.m., with the boy game immediately following at 7:30 p.m.
“We just gotta work on getting a better start and coming out, being ready to play,” Neville said. “Once we do that, we’ll be better off.”