A meaning behind the game: Athens Drive’s Men’s basketball team kicks off season

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Photos by Zoe Politis

The season is only six games in, so there is still an agenda to see to. The team strives to pave their way to the seasonal conference.

When the air starts to chill and the orange-tinted leaves clear from Athens Drive’s pathways, winter sports players dust off their shoes and throw on their jerseys for another season on the court. Indoor track is an art of patience, swim offers a fleeting kind of excitement, and wrestling demands a strong resolve. But there is no sport that gets the student body riled up in the cold like basketball– the winter’s equivalent to the autumn’s football.

“Unlike most sports, you are almost right on the court with the players. It gives us a different experience as fans. You can actually feel the energy. When the team is down, it’s serious and intense, and when they’re up, it’s a far more positive vibe,” said Jaisyn Smith, senior.

This season has kicked off in full swing, with six games on the clock: Cary, Apex, Willow Spring, Green Hope, Middle Creek and Green Level. Each game is full of the type of excitement, rivalry, and skill that the student body wears as a badge of pride.

“The crowd loves rivalry games,” said Nifemi Kalejaiye, senior. “They bring a new level of expectation coming out of football season. It’s an opportunity for redemption or confirmation. Those close games are both loved and hated by the crowd because it keeps us on edge.” 

To the students on the bleachers, a basketball game is a thrilling way to spend a Friday night.  Yet, to the athletes facing them from the court, there is much more at play. To them, basketball is not just eighty minutes spent on offense, defense or center with the net on their minds, it is passion, self-improvement and brotherhood.

Dynaven Lyons, star senior player on the team, pictured at game against Apex. Lyons is savoring his last basketball season at The Drive. (Photos by Zoe Politis)

A star player on the team, Dynaven Lyons, shares the meaning behind his last basketball season at the drive before graduating high school.

“I’ve been playing for so long now that I love every detail of the game,” said Lyons. “The orange ball is so lovely, the shoes screeching across the court is live music to my ears, the adrenaline rush before games, everything– I love it all. It’s a gateway for me to block everything out. Just me, a ball, and a rim, nothing else– no stress,” said Lyons. “I couldn’t see myself playing any other sport.”

Despite the dread of seniors having to bid farewell to the team and the sport, this is no withdrawal of motivation to perform to the best of their ability.

“When the team wins a game, it strikes some type of momentum in us. We love it: great vibes on and off the court, in the gym, and even the locker room,” said Lyons. “But even then, as a team, we can’t get comfortable enough that another team can get one back on us. So, we keep ourselves focused on our objectives and continue to work hard during practice.”

The practice paid off in the first moments of the season: the team held a two game winning streak after beating rivals, Cary and Apex. However, as the season progresses, the team is facing more challenges.

“When the team loses a game, it’s the complete opposite of what we want. The players hang their heads low, losing confidence, fighting and being frustrated with one another. But Jani, Noah and I, as leads of our team, have to help take these guys under my wing and lead by example. We walk with our heads high, even after a loss,” said Lyons. “The next practice after the loss is like Game Seven NBA Finals because we want to take what we learned and get better enough to win the next game.”

As for this season, there is still a long way to go and, as most athletes can attest, one game can start a new trend for the rest of the season. But, as for the years to come, there is no changing the mark that has already been made on the team.

That sense of having the same end goal as the man next to you, of needing to rely on one another to see to it, is what builds the unbreakable bond between the guys on the team– and watching that brotherhood perform is what makes the game so enticing.

“Basketball means life to me. All of the friends I have now, I met because of basketball. We’ve all been playing with the same guys for about two and a half years now, so the chemistry is there and we all have a very good relationship off the court,” said Lyons. “

I’ll love and remember these guys for the rest of my life.””

— Dynaven Lyons