Vinton's Kevin Anderson Jr. is like a lot of small town kids coming up. Sports is their life.
"I always grew up playing basketball. It gets me away from things," said Anderson. "Vinton is a small town and we really don’t have anything else to do, but play basketball."
Since he was a young boy, Anderson dreamed of one day following in his father's footsteps as a star play for the Vinton Lions. What he didn't realize, is they'd share the same coach.
"Both quick as cats and really tenacious on defense and can get to the rim," said Vinton coach Keith Kelley of Anderson and his father. "Both were undersized guards, but you really couldn’t tell because they knew how to play the game."
Under the first-year Lions coach, the Vinton has returned to the top of the district. Anderson is their leading scorer.
"He’s the point guard and he runs the floor," said Vinton guard Derrick Ryan. "He’s like the quarterback and everyone looks up to him."
"When he's is at the point of our defensive attack, he manages to get his hands on so many basketballs," said Kelley. "He sets the tone up there at the top and when he starts getting deflections and starts getting steals and then run outs for layups, that gets us off and going, and encouraged."
Despite his slight frame, Anderson plays with a lot of heart.
"Even though I am little, and have always been an underdog in Vinton, it never really bothered me. I just keep playing my game," admitted Anderson. "I’m happy I had the opportunity to be a leading scorer. Anybody can be a leading score on our team, but I am just glad we are winning honestly."
And the Lions have been doing plenty of winning.
Since the turn of the new year, Vinton is undefeated and riding an 11-game winning streak. The Lions' 17-7 record has them currently ranked tenth in Class 2A.
"We’ve come a long way. We were in a slump at the beginning of the season," said Ryan. "It was a bond that we formed and we got together and now we’re getting the job done."
"We realized that we could be a good team and that we have a good opportunity," Anderson said. "We just put our heads together and said that we can do this."
What makes Vinton's season even more special is the fact that the Lions have had just one winning season since 2008.
"Coming off of a tough season, I am sure that people looked at us and thought that we had some things that we had to work out," said Kelley. "We have been lucky enough to be able to get those things accomplished and turn negatives into positives."
Kelley credits the team's success to the leadership from his seniors.
"Your seniors are your leaders and they are the guys that have the most experience and they are the guys that could’ve came in and said we’re not going to buy in to what Coach Kelley is teaching us. It could’ve been a hard year, a really hard year."
The Lions opened this season with a pair of goals in mind. Win district, and host a playoff game. They've already achieved both, but are far from finished.
"Right now, we are achieving those goals and we just have to keep achieving until we get to state," said Anderson.
"If you can’t say it, you can’t do it. It’s one of those things that we remind them of after every practice, it is a goal," Kelley said. "That’s always going to be our goal, is to make it to Burton and make it to the final game."
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