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Mental improvements helping Maxberry in a number of ways

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Slowing down the game has been the key for Maxberry’s improvements this season

By Chris Leach

For anyone who has watched Brennon Maxberry play basketball, they’ve seen the senior guard sprint up and down the court at full speed many times, either looking for some space in the paint for a layup or guarding the opposing team’s best player.

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Maxberry’s high-speed style of play can result in mistakes being made. With the game going as fast as it does for Maxberry, there are instances where he’s forced to make a decision in a matter of seconds, which sometimes isn’t enough time to make the right decision.

Those mistakes happened a lot during Maxberry’s early years as a varsity basketball player for Anderson County, and they still happen today as a senior. The biggest change in Maxberry’s game, according to him and his head coach Bryan Hyatt, is the way he handles those mistakes and they way he mentally erases them from his mind and moves on to the next play.

“As a younger kid, an emotional kid, one bad play can become two bad plays, become three bad plays,” Hyatt said. “Now at this point where he’s at now, he can make a bad play, I can leave him and he’ll play on, or I can take him out and actually even coach him and he’s very receptive of all that.”

Improving mentally in the game of basketball was Maxberry’s biggest goal heading into his final season as a Bearcat. Maxberry admits to struggling in dealing with mistakes mentally in previous seasons, but this year he believes he’s improved in that category, and it’s helped him in numerous ways on the court.

“Last year I was always nervous and I didn’t play to where I could be playing,” Maxberry said. “I got more confidence this year in myself.”

One of the instances where Maxberry’s growth was evident was in Anderson’s win over Shelby County.

Everyone will mostly remember that game as the game where Zariahn McKee hit the game-winning three-pointer with seconds left in overtime to seal Anderson’s only district win of the season. The shot was huge and certainly worth remembering, but something Maxberry did in that game was less obvious, but just as impactful towards the win according to Hyatt.

“When he’s focused on what needs to be done and what we want him to do specifically defensive, I haven’t seen anybody better in our region,” Hyatt said. “We beat Shelby County in here, and an un-foreseen factor in that game was that Brennon kept the ball out of the best player’s hands for probably five minutes of the game, last five minutes of the game.”

Coaching Maxberry has been a difficult task for Hyatt in his first year as a head coach because of Maxberry’s emotion and passion towards the game. Hyatt doesn’t want to eliminate Maxberry’s emotions in the game because it’s what helps him play the way he does, and it’s become a big part of the process this team has undergone the whole season.

Hyatt has talked a lot this season about how this team is a process that will play its best basketball during the postseason tournaments. After a 1-4 stretch following the Shelby County win, the process looks to be paying off for the Bearcats as they have won four straight games prior to last Tuesday’s result against Eminence.

Hyatt has said that every player on the team has a role towards the process, and for Maxberry, his role is to be the best guard defender on the team while maintaining the efficiency on offense in a number of ways.

“I need to let everything come to me and not try to rush everything and not try to force everything and just let it come,” Maxberry said.

Maxberry has been through previous processes with past Bearcat teams, so he knows what it means to buy into his role. When he’s firing on all cylinders and doing everything his coach asks of him, he helps take the team to another level, which it has been playing at during this recent stretch of wins.

“He helps play basketball five as one,” Hyatt said. “You’ll hear coaches playing five as one, and we do too, we always have here, but he helps us five as one, and on his way up as a younger kid, I think people may have doubted that, that he could reach where he’s at now.”

Maxberry loves playing basketball, and unfortunately for the guard he will only have a limited amount of chances to do so in an Anderson uniform. His senior night will be this upcoming Friday against Franklin County, which will be the final regular season game before the 30th District Tournament.

“I want to win for sure because we play Franklin County and I have a bunch of friends there,” Maxberry said. “It’s just going to be a good night.”

Maxberry has successfully been able to slow down the pace of the game in his mind this season, but he won’t be able to slow down the amount of time left in the season, even though he wishes he could. Maxberry wants to play at least one more year because of the improvements he made and how much more he think he could improve if he had another year.

It’s possible that Maxberry could continue his basketball career outside of high school, as the senior is undecided on his future plans of college and athletics. Maxberry could choose to play football or basketball at the next level, and whatever Maxberry decided, Hyatt believes he will succeed because of the improvements he’s made mentally.

“He’s mentally grown a lot, he’s matured, he’s ready for the next chapter of his life,” Hyatt said. “If he’ll dedicate himself, he’s going to make somebody a good student athlete.”

Before Maxberry moves on to the next level, he will get one last night to enjoy with his friends and family in front of the home crowd. Maxberry expects the night to be emotional among his family, with his mom having the biggest chance to shed some tears.

“My mom’s going to be crying, I can already tell,” Maxberry said.

Maxberry, along with fellow seniors Dontre Britt, Zariahn McKee and John Michael Woolums, will all be honored before the start of Friday’s game.

“Just been a good group, and I give them a lot of credit for upholding their end of the bargain,” Hyatt said.