The guard broke onto the prep basketball scene for his senior year with more speed, strength, better size, weight and a year of experience as a starter under his belt.
“I think he wanted to lead right off the bat,” Raiders coach Ronnie Preston said. “There really wasn’t much of a transition. He’s never really been shy about that in particular.
“He didn’t have to handle the ball all the time his junior year. Of course, he didn’t have to handle the ball all the time this year, either. He did a really good job attacking the basket.”
Garrett Preston finished the season averaging 17.7 points and 4.7 rebounds a game, helping Pleasant Valley to the Class 2A, Area 10 championship. As a result, he is The Anniston Star’s Class 1A-2A boys basketball player of the year.
“At the beginning of the year, we weren’t that close as a team,” he said. “As the season went on, we got closer.”
Probably the best part of Garrett Preston’s game was being able to create jump shots off the dribble. His shining moment came in the first round of the county tournament when Pleasant Valley defeated Alexandria 63-61. Preston was responsible for 28 of his team’s points.
He also helped lead a defense that Ronnie Preson installed.
“We came up with this defense that no one could really score on,” Garrett Preston said. “We ran it once in practice and ran it in our game the next day and they never scored on us.”
The defense was a 1-2-1-1 zone that was actually run by the Raiders in the early 1990s.
“I was talking to one of the guys that played here back then and the more we talked about it, the more I liked the way it sounded,” Ronnie Preston said. “It made it difficult for people to score. I haven’t seen anyone run it around here, so any time we played with it, it was something no one had seen.”
The complementary play was solid enough to earn the Raiders their first regular-season area championship since before Ronnie Preston began teaching at Pleasant Valley seven years ago, allowing Garrett Preston to go out on top after taking the leading role of the team.
“I’m going to miss it,” he said. “I don’t want to graduate, but I do. I enjoyed high school.”
Sports Writer Brandon Miller: 256-235-3575. On Twitter @bmiller_star.