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Bringing a solid game, on and off the court / October 21, 2020
The Bluestone varsity basketball team will hopefully begin conditioning sessions very soon. A recent vote by the Mecklenburg County School Board to allow the resumption of workouts for high school athletics set an Oct. 21 start date for conditioning.

One athlete eager to get back in the gym is Nic Abernathy. The senior guard was able to finish out his junior season of basketball before the coronavirus shut down school back in March.

Since that time, Abernathy has been working to prepare for his final season of high school basketball. He says he’ll be glad to get back together with his teammates.

“From what (Coach) Lancaster is saying I think Wednesday we’re gonna try and start,” Abernathy said. “I think it‘ll be good especially since it’s been so long since I have seen any of them. I haven’t communicated with any of them in the off-season. Just been staying to myself — trying to stay out of trouble.”

While some student athletes haven’t been able to maintain fitness levels during the pandemic, Abernathy is quite the opposite. He feels he has improved in his game skills and he has put on muscle and weight.

“I’ve been playing basketball every day and working out every day,” Abernathy said. “I’ve gained about 20 pounds. I’m feeling better being 170 instead of 150 ‘cause I feel like that was one of my weaknesses last year.”

That weakness was brought to his attention last season by a NCAA Division I basketball program. “We went to Goochland and when we played Goochland I had a pretty good game. The Richmond Spiders said they were looking at me but I didn’t have enough weight at the time.

“That was one of the reasons I put on the weight. Hopefully they’ll come back to a Goochland game when we play.

Monday through Friday, Abernathy works out and shoots ball. On Saturday and Sunday he gives his body a chance to relax from the workouts, but he can still be seen shooting ball. “It’s usually by myself. I’ll drive up to the church, Bethel Baptist Church and they have a little court there and I’ll play there.”

A protein shake after each workout and eating frequently are part of the regimen he uses to maintain the weight.

“I’m still working to make sure the weight is strength and not just body fat — I want to keep the body fat as low as I can,” Abernathy explained. “I started putting a lot of money into it and I eat every two hours to gain the weight. Protein shake, other than that I’ll eat anything every two hours, whether it’s a bowl of cereal or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”

Abernathy, who lives in Red Oak, started playing organized basketball while in fourth grade at Chase City Elementary through a program at the Mecklenburg County YMCA. From there he moved on to middle school ball where Coach Aleko Mangum gave him an opportunity to play in the sixth grade. He said he’s had some special coaches, continuing forward to the current Bluestone mentor, George Lancaster.

“I think all the coaches from Coach Mangum in sixth grade … I wasn’t that good and I didn’t play too much, but I thank him for putting me on the team and giving me an opportunity and from there just growing,” Abernathy said. “Even Coach Sizemore having him in the ninth grade when he was coaching varsity helped me build a lot of confidence. And Lancaster, definitely, I feel like if I play good he can get me somewhere, but it’s up to me to play good. And (Coach) Whitten, he does stuff for everybody.”

Under the VHSL’s Championships+1 calendar, basketball practice will begin on Dec. 7 with the first game action on Dec. 21. The schedule allows for 14 regular-season games.

Abernathy said as the team gets ready to enter this season, he’s hoping for a better start than last year when he missed some games on the front end of the schedule due to an ankle injury. He also sees a good amount of young potential on the court this year for the Barons.

“You know how it started with the injury,” recalled Abernathy. “That’s one thing I want to try as hard as I can to prevent happening again, especially in practice.”

Averaging 20 points per game after returning from Christmas break last season, Abernathy said he needs to hit that mark and even possibly do better this season. And while he’s concerned with how he’ll perform, he noted that he’s much more focused on how Bluestone can succeed as a team.

“I am excited to play with the new team I have and the potential each player has,” Abernathy continued. “Individual stats, I do want to play good, but I want to see everybody play good.”

That desire for success carries over to the classroom. Abernathy is an honor roll student maintaining A’s and B’s in his subjects. As for COVID-19 keeping the student population at Bluestone and Park View high schools at home, he said he’s enjoyed going to school online.

“It’s actually been going real good for me,” Abernathy stated. “You can access at any time, so I’ll finish around 12 and then I can go work out and do anything else I need to do during the day.”

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