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Zone buster: Grebe helps Bear River to playoffs

Stacy Hicklin

The situation has repeated itself over and over again this season. A team will throw a 2-3 zone at the Bear River boys basketball team and head coach Jack McCrory looks to his “zone buster” Devin Grebe for a solution.

But at first glance, the senior guard does not appear to be a 3-point threat standing at 6-foot-4, but once he catches the ball, squares up and releases his shot with a feathery soft touch – all doubt is erased.

Grebe admits he’s been a shooter his whole life, with the long-range shooting aspect of basketball coming easy for him. Going into high school, however, Grebe stood at 5-foot-7, but over a period of two years grew seven inches – thus leading to some shooting struggles and adjustments.

But now that Grebe is comfortable with his height, his shooting precision has taken off again this season. Grebe leads the team in made 3-pointers with 43 and is averaging 7.6 points per game coming into its playoff opener tonight against Encina in Sacramento.

“He’s probably our best perimeter shooter,” McCrory said. “He has a real gift for the 3-point shot and has really stepped up (this season).”

While Grebe has been a shooter since he began playing the sport in second grade, his success does not come from just natural talent alone. He admits he’ll regularly spends up to two hours after practice shooting alone in the gym.

“The gym really is a place I can come to relax and not worry about anything,” Grebe said. “It’s like a home to me.”

But while Grebe is known as the team’s zone buster, McCrory adds that Grebe had also re-focused this season on being a good defensive player as well. His ability to jump into passing lanes and take charges this season are parts of his game McCrory is most proud of as his coach.

The new dimension to Grebe’s game has not gone unnoticed as Grebe has earned another nickname this season – the praying mantis.

Grebe sat in Scott Savoie’s science class one day as Savoie suddenly launched in a discussion of how Grebe reminded him of a praying mantis because of his tall, skinny body and how quickly he is able to attack on the court.

His teammates got a kick out of the nickname, as did Grebe. Shortly thereafter, Grebe created another nickname for teammate Adam Stillman. After Stillman rushed to the vans prior to a game after getting a new spiky hair cut, Grebe dubbed him “the hedgehog.”

Now in practice, the hedgehogs routinely take on the praying mantises.

That type of good-natured fun between teammates is most definitely the norm on this year’s squad, a team that McCrory says has become quite close-knit in the absence of any drama with every player having an important role.

Grebe, he said, has helped to create such an enjoyable environment.

“Devin is well-liked by everyone in the locker room,” McCrory said. “He has a non-aggressive personality and he’s probably the best-liked player on the team. Devin is comfortable talking to everyone.”

Growing up in a home with three younger sisters, Grebe admits he’s learned a lot about patience.

“The key thing too I’ve learned from my sisters is to listen to people,” Grebe said. “Sometimes having sisters is a lot of drama, but it has helped me to know how to take care of a situation.

“You can’t create bonds with people unless you listen to them.”

To contact sportswriter Stacy Hicklin, e-mail her at stacyh@theunion.com or call 477-4244.

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