Gray leading Wave to best season in memory

Published 12:11 am Thursday, January 17, 2008

NATCHEZ — There are many great moments that Juan Gray has been a part of for the Cathedral basketball team.

And, this season especially, there have been many great wins Gray has been a part of.

But the biggest moment that stands out in Green Wave coach Peter Arnold’s mind when talking about his senior guard actually came in a loss.

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It was last season in Cathedral’s grudge match with rival St. Aloysius. The Wave found themselves down three points when Gray was fouled shooting a three-pointer with less than a second left.

The stakes were high, the crowd was going crazy, but Gray calmly stepped to the line and drained all three free throws to send the game into overtime.

“Not many kids, playing against a huge rival with a big crowd, would be able to step up and make all three free throws in that situation,” Arnold said. “That says a lot about his ability and his composure. We ended up losing in triple overtime, but I’ll never forget that.”

Stepping up in clutch situations is something Gray has done his entire career at Cathedral. He is the main scoring threat, averaging 25.7 points and 6.2 rebounds per game for the 18-4 Green Wave.

“Juan has meant so many things to the program,” Arnold said. “He has so much God-given abilities and he maximizes it. He’s a really special player and brings everybody else’s level up.”

Gray attended Cathedral through the sixth grade before transferring to Jefferson County for grades seven through nine.

He the transferred back to Cathedral for his sophomore season and has been a fixture in the basketball gym ever since.

“At a 1A school you’re lucky to have a kid like him once every 30 years,” Arnold said. “He’s a pure basketball player. He doesn’t play any other sports, just basketball year round. He has a deep love of the game.”

Gray said he enjoys the game and enjoys the fact that he has the ball in his hands for Cathedral most of the time alternating between shooting guard and point guard.

“I like to make plays,” Gray said. “I like playing point guard (better than shooting guard) because I can know when to score and know when to dish the ball.”

Gray has improved greatly from his sophomore season and says it is a combination of hard work and education about the game.

“I know the offense much better now,” Gray said. “Just being around basketball with the other players helped me out too.”

And Gray’s has a chance to help his team do something special in his senior season.

With 18 wins, the Green Wave are on pace to have the most wins in a season in school history and despite an overtime loss to West Lincoln Tuesday night, are still in the thick of the district championship hunt.

“We’ve got a lot of high hopes and lofty goals this season,” Arnold said. “Having Juan definitely plays a big role in that.”

But despite the fact that Gray is putting up great offensive numbers, his coach says there’s only one thing Gray cares about.

“He doesn’t care about all the statistics,” Arnold said. “He just wants to win above everything else.”