Athlete of the Week: Werba sparks Sharks’ historic run

sjhoops-werbaThe history books say the 2014-15 St. James High boys basketball team went farther than any squad in school history. The scorebook shows that Zach Werba played a huge role in the historic run.

Just as the Sharks showed a flair for the dramatic with fourth-quarter comebacks to reach the Class 3A Lower State semifinals for the first time, so did Werba. In their last two games, the junior guard connected on nine 3-pointers in the final period to keep St. James’ playoff hopes alive until the final tick.

“The coaches were telling me from Day One that I needed to shoot the ball more,” recalled Werba, who was voted the Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week for his efforts. “I went through a slump in the first half of the season but I started getting more comfortable shooting as the season went on. Once I hit the first one, I got hot.”

Indeed. Trailng by 15 at halftime at Orangeburg-Wilkinson, Werba hit four treys and scored all 14 of his points in the final frame to lead the Sharks’ upset. They trailed by 19 at the half in the ensuing semifinal at Darlington before rallying behind Werba’s five 3-pointers in the second half and eventually falling four points short of a win.

“The players kept saying we are a second-half team but we had to start getting it going in the first half of we were going to keep winning,” Werba said. “It showed against Darlington. We just got too far behind. The coaches told us to keep fighting and we went all out in second half. We fell short but it was a great run. I didn’t want it to end.”

Unfortunately for seven seniors, it was the end of the road for the Sharks. But for Werba, All-Region Player of the Year Jackson Hurston and fellow guard Jordan Fields, the junior trio has one more shot to try to improve upon this year’s run. Werba, who also plays quarterback for the St. James football team, knows his chances are limited.

“It really hit me this year in football and basketball when the seniors were playing their last games,” Werba said. “I just want to have a great senior year and enjoy every minute of it. I don’t know (about playing college sports) yet, so I just want to make the most of it.”

If Werba’s senior year is anything like the final games of his junior basketball season, he is saving his best for last.

Photo by Rancier Photography

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