Barons mixing newcomers with experienced core

ST. GEORGE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- Dhruv Mehrotra is now in his third year at the Blue Ridge School. He enters his senior season with the Barons' basketball team with the added responsibility that comes with being a team captain.

It's a responsibility that Mehrotra is taking seriously, he said Monday morning.

"I remember my struggle in my first two years," Mehrotra said. "So I've been trying to get guys going early, so they can be really, really good in their senior year, junior year, as they go on here."

Mehrotra was a sophomore on the Blue Ridge team that won the VISAA Division II state championship in 2017. The Barons got back to that state title game last year, but lost to rival Miller School -- then lost a trio of double-digit scorers in Darius McGhee, Sardaar Calhoun and Myles Jones.

Mehrotra and senior forward Jaden Frazier, who signed with Chattanooga earlier this month, will serve as the Barons' captains this season, along with student manager Keane Emmans-McGill. Frazier is in his fourth season at Blue Ridge.

"I think it's my job to make sure everybody's on the same page, and making sure everybody knows what's going on," he said. "This is a great group of guys. And just getting to get out there and compete with them is definitely a blessing."

The 6-9 Frazier is one of a half-dozen players on this year's Blue Ridge roster listed at 6-5 or taller. That list includes a pair of newcomers in 6-11 junior Sasha Glushkov from Russia, and 6-10 sophomore Houston Emory from Pennsylvania.

The Barons also added a pair of guards in junior William Lee from New York, and sophomore Michael Gray from Fredericksburg.

"That is definitely a work in progress," coach Cade Lemcke said of the Barons' new additions. "They have to understand and learn our system. They have to learn what it means to be a Blue Ridge Baron, and to have those core values of discipline and selflessness and hard work. They'll get there, but it's definitely a work in progress."

"The new guys this year have been great," said Frazier, who averaged 7.0 points and 5.5 rebounds a season ago. "Hard work every day has been the key."

The Barons' backcourt will also include senior Chris Rogers from nearby Elkton, who averaged 7.2 points and 4.2 assists in his first year at Blue Ridge last season. Rogers said Monday that one goal for this year's team -- starting with Wednesday's season opener at Lake Braddock Secondary School -- will be to hold opponents below the 50-point mark on the defensive end.

"Each guy that comes in obviously knows how to put the ball in the hoop, very skilled offensively," Rogers said. "Getting guys caught up on the defensive end is probably the biggest challenge for us, which the guys this year, the new guys have really stepped up to the plate. They're taking ownership of their roles and stuff. It's been great."

Lemcke says he'll lean on the Barons' experienced players this season, as they try to make a run at the program's third state title in the past five seasons.

"If you have guys that have been through it -- been through some winning streaks, been through some adversity -- you can't make up for that," Lemcke said.

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