GOOCHLAND -- Although the 2020-21 season became a successful one for the Bulldogs the moment they took the floor for their first game a month ago, another major goal was achieved Tuesday night.
After all of the uncertainty and cancellations that have been brought about by the current pandemic over the last 10 months – and after several Virginia school systems made the decision to not participate in winter sports this season – Goochland’s boys basketball program succeeded in holding its Senior Night game versus West Point. The program was able to both honor and showcase the efforts and contributions of the Goochland High School Class of 2021's Reid Dameron, Kyle Goff, Jack Hoffler and Kameron Holman.
“I’m just very thankful to even have a Senior Night tonight, and just to have a few fans out, it felt good to have eyes watching on us again,” said Holman, a four-year varsity player who, despite Tuesday’s 51-37 setback to West Point, came away from the game with 18 points. “It was a tough loss, but I’m happy that we got to have Senior Night.”
“I’m grateful for our coach and administration for setting it up and the parents for doing the posters and really making it as normal as a Senior Night as they could,” said Hoffler, who scored 9 points and added six rebounds. “I was grateful that my family could come and watch the game at least in person one time.”
For the senior student-athletes who have grown up playing sports together, “this is our night to really show what we’ve done for our school and our community,” said Kyle Goff, who had three rebounds in Tuesday’s game, and who also plays golf in the fall and baseball in the spring. While they didn’t get the win in the scorebook on Tuesday, he added: “It’s a win due to COVID; we’re one of few teams being able to play, so it’s a blessing that we even got to have this.”
Dameron, who in addition to basketball also plays tennis in the spring and runs cross country in the fall, impressed Goochland head coach Preston Gordon in his start on Tuesday, hauling in four rebounds and grabbing a steal in the third quarter.
“Reid gives so much; he plays so hard. If he missed a day in the preseason, it was only one. He led us in stretching and he’s a team guy,” Gordon said of Dameron. “He does the little things that every coach asks, and it means a lot to me.”
Goff didn’t get a chance to play basketball last year because of his shoulder, but Gordon admired his decision to compete on the hardwood this year.
“It’s good to see him out here. He’s done some things well for us early that, to be honest, I didn’t expect, not because I didn’t think he could do it; I was just worried about how his shoulder was going to hold up,” Gordon said. “I’m proud of him for fighting through that.”
Holman has been one of Goochland’s go-to players for the past couple of years in both basketball and football. He helped the Bulldogs’ varsity boys basketball team reach the state tournament for the first time in 2018, and then the final four for the first time in 2019. He is 149 points away from 1,000 in his high school career with at least seven more games slated to be played in this regular season.
Holman has also been a part of a Goochland football program that from 2017 to 2019 went 38-4, reached at least the third round of the playoffs all three years, played in two state semifinals and went to the state championship game in 2018. Holman has multiple offers to play football.
“He’s got an upside both on the football field as well as the basketball court – just a pure athlete, and knows how to score,” Gordon had said of Holman in April after Holman had earned Second Team All-Region honors in basketball.
Hoffler, Gordon noted, has really stepped up his game. The senior has emerged as one of Goochland’s leading scorers alongside Holman this season. He and Holman have also been splitting time at point guard following the graduation of four-year starter Quincy Snead.
“He’s worked hard to get to where he is now,” Gordon said of Hoffler. “I know that he wants to be one of those go-to guys, and he is.”
Dameron said his senior teammates “bring everything to the table.”
“We’ve had people like Kameron who’ve been playing on varsity since freshman year,” said Dameron, who also praised Hoffler’s play at the guard position “in regards to going up, always getting shots, being reliable,” and he added that Goff “is always there to be a big man if you need it” and go after rebounds.
“Kam’s been playing with the high school program since the eighth grade, playing JV and then varsity as a freshman...he’s just always come out and attacked and played well,” Hoffler said. “Kyle, he brings a lot of energy, he’s fun to be around, and Reid, he really pushes it in practice, and tonight it really showed...he brings a lot of energy, too.”
“They’ve definitely brought hard work to the table,” Holman said of his senior teammates. “They work hard every day at practice. They push each other, including myself, to get better. They just have that work ethic that not many people have.”
“I love all of them, man,” Goff said of his senior teammates. “On and off the court, we go out and do stuff together. Even with COVID, we still try to stay connected as much as we can and as safe as possible, especially with basketball...It’s awesome, man. I’m excited to see what everybody does and hopefully we still can stay on the level we are now when we are all in college.”
Despite Tuesday’s loss, Hoffler said, “We played hard from start to finish even when we got tired...we just kept pushing.”
“I felt like we boxed out pretty well for the most part and we attacked the rim,” Holman said, “and we made free throws very well.”
Goochland shot 7 for 7 from the free-throw line.
Trailing West Point 36-30 going into the fourth quarter, Goochland’s J.D. Mills halved that lead when he capitalized on a look from behind the arc with the 3-point shot. Holman then took a steal to the house to further cut the Pointers’ margin to 36-35.
But a 3-pointer from 6-6 junior Cade McCulloch – the son of Geoff McCulloch, with whom Gordon used to coach when they were at Pulaski together – sparked a 7-0 run for the visitors, who continued to pull away from the Bulldogs with free throws, as they shot 10 for 17 from the foul line in the fourth.
“I don’t think that anything that we did isn’t fixable,” Gordon said. “We’ve just got to be a little bit more focused in paying attention to the details of the game, of areas that we can fix. Sometimes it’s just a shot selection, or the timing of the clock and the possession where we are.”
“We’ve just definitely got to take it one stop at a time. That’s what coach Gordon tells us, tells us it starts with the defensive end and that’ll translate to offense,” Holman said. “I think we’ve just got to tighten down on our defense a little bit and that’ll translate to everything else that we’ve got to get going.”
McCulloch led West Point with 13 points Tuesday night, including 8 in the fourth quarter.
As Goochland (3-3) prepares for a busy stretch – with Charles City at home on Friday at 6 p.m., Fluvanna on the road on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. and Windsor at home on Monday at 7 p.m. – Holman is looking forward to just playing basketball.
“I’m thankful to still be playing with all the circumstances going on.”