With a special player on the floor, Vanguard boys basketball is having a memorable season

Vanguard boys basketball Sth Fuqua

(Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com)

Seth Fuqua doesn't remember not being able to dribble a basketball. According to his parents, he started doing it at 13-months-old.

Fast forward to 2018 and it appears to have paid off, not just for him, but for the Vanguard Coursers. After a nail-biting win over Manitou Springs on Friday and an easier win over Colorado Springs Christian on Saturday, Vanguard won the Class 3A Tri-Peaks district tournament.

The Coursers finished the season with a 20-2 overall record. They ran the table in league play. Fuqua is leading them to the best season in school history.

Fuqua has played a major role in the team's success, averaging 25 points per game this season. His junior year has been the fruition of work and skill development that goes back to be before his earliest memories.

"My dad started me really young with a lot of ball-handling," Fuqua said. "The first season I played, I was three-years-old and I played on a little five- and six-year-old (YMCA) team. That's what got me started loving the game."

His father Brent also has a love of the game that runs deep. An ordained minister, Brent is the founder and director of a program called Hoops of Hope. According to the program's website, Brent has a MAT from the University of North Carolina, a school that plays a high of level of collegiate basketball from time to time.

It was being around this program that Seth's love of the game really progressed.

"That was a lot of fun for me," Seth said. "We'd travel around the country and have basketball camps and I was one of the campers. All day, every day for pretty much the whole summer, I 'd be working on a bunch of skills. Dribbling, shooting, passing and that's where my foundation came from."

When watching smaller schools play the game, it's not uncommon that one player can truly make a difference between a team being good and a team reaching greatness.

In each of his three years at Vanguard, Seth has helped the team stay above .500. This year is by far the most successful year in the program's history. Watching Seth get better and watching the team get better has been a welcome sight for coach Joe Wetters.

"Our offense is geared towards him making things happen and making plays," Wetters said.

Vanguard boys basketball Sth Fuqua

(Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com)

But this is far from a one-man show. At the conclusion of the 2016-17 season, Wetters knew his team had the ability to improve and be more competitive. The players knew it too. They worked all offseason to make sure that it was the unit as a whole that was playing championship-level ball.

"We bonded this like like no other year before," Fuqua said. "We trust each other with the ball. We've been working hard every day. I genuinely love these guys. They're my brothers. That bond is what brought us together and why we're having the success that we are."

The Coursers were on the ropes in their district semifinal game against Manitou Springs. Down one with less than a minute left, they needed a shot to fall and while everyone would naturally look to Fuqua, it was Dominque Clifford that knocked it down, keep the Coursers alive in the tournament.

They topped CSCS the next night, completing the journey that Wetters has been navigating for eight years.

"I don't know if surreal is the right word," Wetters said. "It's something that we've dreamed about for a while, being able to see our name at the top of the list."

Fuqua believes this team has the ability to do more. He thinks they can make a run at state. That task will begin on Friday when the Coursers host DSST: Green Valley Ranch in the first round of the 3A state tournament.