BLAND, Va. —
Confidence is a wonderful thing.
No one knows it better than Asher Dillow, the Bland County senior sharpshooter, who is lethal with a basketball when his confidence is at its highest.
It was on Wednesday night, with Dillow connecting on a pair of 3s early in the opening quarter on his way to 22 points in leading the Bears to a 65-41 win over Eastern Montgomery.
In reality, it’s been the same for five games. The Bears have won four straight since an early loss and Dillow’s confidence continues to soar
“It feels really good,” Dillow said. “A lot of my stuff is confidence and once I see those first couple go down I feel like I don’t even have to look, I just throw it up.”
He ‘threw it up’ up well to start the season, averaging 22.6 points a game, leading the Bears to four wins and earning the first boys Pocahontas Coal Association/Bluefield Daily Telegraph Player of the Week award.
Dillow figures he might not be the only Bland County honoree this season, with fellow seniors Darryl Clark and Chase Hankins also among the area’s best players.
“I really appreciate it, I am honored to get it,” Dillow said. “We have Darryl and Chase, we have got several guys who could really get after it and win this award.”
Dillow had been a model of consistency for the Bears, scoring 20, 23, 24, 24 and 22 points for the Bears through five games.
“He continues to play well, he continues to play hard,” Bland County head coach Rich Hankins said. “He is shooting the eyes out of it as you can expect, just a tremendous worker offensively and he is never satisfied.
“He just continues to work on his shot and he is going to continue to lead this team.”
He opened the season struggling with what he called ‘first game jitters’, scoring 20 points, but in a losing effort against Floyd County. Since then Dillow has been on, and so have the Bears.
“With the exception of that first game against Floyd, I have been pretty pleased,” Dillow said. “I didn’t shoot the ball as well as I would like to against Floyd, but other than that I have been pretty pleased so far.”
That performance was followed by six 3s and 23 points in a win over Rural Retreat, 24 points in a return match with the Indians and another 24 against Northwood.
“I feel like I have been playing pretty well,” Dillow said. “Confidence is the biggest thing for me, it is all in the head.”
He does more than score. For instance, Dillow had eight steals, six rebounds and four assists in one of those wins over Rural Retreat.
Yet, Dillow loves to shoot the ball, but he likes to win even more. Expectations are high for the senior-laden Bears this season, and they’re not shy about it.
“If we can come out and play defense like we did tonight and get after people, we are great 3-point shooting team,” Dillow said. “If we can get out and get some layups in transition and pull-up 3s, we will be hard to handle.”
Especially if that confidence remains high.
“I think all high school kids are that way, I know Chase in particular if he will hit that first shot he is good for the rest of the night and I don’t think Asher is any different,” Hankins said. “This game has a lot to do with confidence.
“If they get down on themselves it will be up to the rest of us to pick them up a little bit, but we are playing well right now.”
Hankins is impressed by the passion Dillow shows for the game, and the fact that he continues to perform despite the pressure of having to perform.
“That is a tremendous honor and it is a tribute to his work ethic in particular,” Hankins said. “We expect so much out of him along with those other seniors. We are in for a good long run, I hope.”
They’ll face perhaps their biggest challenge of the young season tonight when Tazewell visits the Bears at Rocky Gap. Bland County doesn’t shy away from the bigger school Bulldogs, having split decisions with them over the last two years, including a thrilling 82-80 win in the same venue last December.
Among the Bulldogs the small Bears must contend with is 6-foot-4 junior stat machine Noah Walker, who was arguably Dillow’s closest competitor for the first boys award of the season.
“That is always one of my favorite games of the season,” Dillow said. “I feel like our team really gets up for Tazewell, we really play hard against Tazewell, it has been a good game.
“We have split with them the last two years. We have won one and they have won one the last two years, it is always high-scoring and fun, it is a fun game to play.”
So is playing at Rocky Gap. Dillow is in the unique position of having to adjust to playing in two different gyms for home games. He attends Rocky Gap, where some games are played, while others are at Bland, much like Wednesday’s win over the Mustangs.
“I would much rather play at Rocky Gap, I go in there and shoot just about every day at Rocky Gap,” Dillow said. “That is where I go to school, that is more of my home and I think it is really like that for most of the team, even though they go to Bland.
“We usually prefer Rocky Gap, we usually play better over there.”
Either way isn’t all that bad for Dillow. The rims never change.
“As long as they go down,” said Dillow, with a laugh. “They are all 10 foot.”
— Contact Brian Woodson at firstname.lastname@example.org
BLAND, Va. —
Confidence is a wonderful thing.
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