While he is enjoying Great Valley's undefeated boys' basketball season, Brad Sherry is fully aware of the skepticism that follows the team.
It exists because of what happened in 2006-07. That year, after achieving perfection during the regular season, the Patriots lost two of three games in the PIAA District 1 Class AAA playoffs and fell short of qualifying for the state tournament.
After that, people wonder if Sherry and his teammates are destined for a similar postseason fate.
"I think all of that kind of motivates us," said Sherry, a 6-foot-4, 175-pound senior swingman. "We don't want to be a team that withers away when it comes up against tough competition. We think we're better than that."
With Sherry as a double-digit scorer and three-point threat, Great Valley, now a Class AAAA school, is 18-0 overall and sits atop the Ches-Mont League American Conference with a 9-0 mark.
"Brad has a real good basketball IQ, is very coachable, and he's extremely reliable," longtime Patriots coach Jim Nolan said.
Win No. 18 came Tuesday night. Sherry delivered 21 points, including four three-pointers, as host Great Valley doubled up Sun Valley, 70-35, in a conference tilt.
Sherry, a captain and third-year starter, averages 11 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal. He has drilled 31 threes and is shooting 39 percent from beyond the arc.
"My sophomore year, I was pretty much just an outside shooter," the 18-year-old said. "I wanted to be more versatile than that, so I began working more on driving and scoring off the dribble."
Great Valley's go-to scorer is junior Mikal Bridges. A 6-6 junior averaging 20.9 points and seven boards, he is being recruited heavily by Delaware and St. Joseph's. Massachusetts, St. Bonaventure, and Xavier are also involved.
"He's obviously got Division I potential," Sherry said. "He's able to create scoring opportunities for himself so easily."
Junior point guard Cyree Ames, senior wing guard Michael Gregory, and 6-3 junior forward Nate Cohen round out the starting lineup. Of Cohen, Nolan said: "He does all the dirty work, including defending inside and taking charges."
Chris Geiss, a 6-4 senior and the football team's quarterback, usually comes off the bench. Junior guard Julian Alston and 6-5 sophomore center Ryan Buchholz play similar roles.
The Patriots notched quality nonleague wins against Glen Mills, of the Del-Val League, and the Public League's Simon Gratz. A big challenge awaits at 7:30 p.m. Saturday against visiting Penn Wood, a Del-Val power.
"Playing Penn Wood will give us a good idea of exactly where we are as a team," Sherry said. "They're always one of the top contenders in districts."
Sherry will continue his hoops career at Division III Catholic University in Washington. He plans to major in finance or accounting.
His cousin Dan Sherry excelled in football - as a safety and punter - for St. Joseph's Prep and is a hardworking sub on the hardwood. Another cousin, 6-9 Tom Sweeney, played for Wissahickon and is now a junior center at Ithaca College.
"I played baseball growing up," Brad Sherry said, "but I was always more passionate about playing basketball."
Tap-ins. Friends Select senior guard Ben Holl (21.9 ppg.) has hit 62 three-pointers in 16 games. . . . For Owen J. Roberts, Matt Crider is averaging 21.4 points. . . . The leading scorers for Abington Friends are Jordan Greene (13.2 ppg.) and Joe Robinson (10.9). . . . Strawberry Mansion's Donovan Barnes is averaging 18.3 points. . . . Pennsbury's Cameron Jones (49) and Mekhi Bryant (27) have combined for 76 treys. . . . Mike Sturdivant (21.5 ppg.) and Gary Bryant (19.5) are a solid one-two punch for Masterman. . . . Shipley juniors Matt Rodden (42) and Shawn Harvey (32) have combined for 74 threes. . . . Navy recruit Mike Brown (19.5) and Zach Quattro (16.8) are Hatboro-Horsham's top scorers.
Rick O'Brien: The Inquirer TOP 10
BOYS' BASKETBALLTeam Rec.
Records are through Tuesday.
Last week's rankings in parentheses.
1. Math, Civics & Sci. (1) 20-0
2. Chester (2) 15-3
3. Neumann-Goretti (3) 13-4
4. Lower Merion (6) 16-2
5. St. Joseph's Prep (7) 15-3
6. Martin Luther King (9) 19-1
7. Vaux (4) 13-7
8. Imhotep Charter (5) 17-4
9. Roman Catholic (NR) 13-5
10. Great Valley (NR) 18-0
Under consideration (listed alphabetically): Abington (14-4), Archbishop Carroll (14-4), Friends' Central (17-5), Germantown Academy (15-5), La Salle (14-4), Norristown (15-3). - Rick O'Brien
Contact Rick O'Brien at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow on Twitter @ozoneinq. Read his blog, "The O'Zone," at www.philly.com/ozone