CHARLOTTESVILLE — By being less, Eastern Hancock is getting more from senior Cyrus Burton.
The 6-2 forward has been a key part of the Royals varsity program over the last three years, but it was quick to see at the start of the 2021-22 campaign, he was a different player.
In anticipation of his senior season and just for his own betterment, Burton lost 25 pounds over the summer.
He’s weighing in at around 178-182 pounds now, he said, as compared to 205 as a junior.
“I can move a lot better,” Burton said. “When I weighed (over 200 pounds) it was hard to move side-to-side.”
His agility is a lot better,” coach Aaron Spaulding added.
Burton has seen time as both a starter and reserve. Most recently, he is one of the team’s top contributors off the bench. He still often get starters minutes.
This season, he is averaging 4.9 points per game and has scored in double figures three times. He tied a season-high with 12 points in his senior night finale, a victory over Hagerstown. He was 4 of 4 from the field. Including a pair of 3-pointers. He his second on the team in rebounding at 4.3 per contest and first in offensive rebounds at 2.1. He is second with six blocked shots.
“It was a little bit of both,” Burton said when asked if his dedication was related to going into his final high school season or just wanting to get in better shape. “We were working out all the time during summer and I was wanting to get in better shape and seeing if it would help me.
“It’s relieving knowing I’m not super big trying to move all over the place. I’ve always wanted to lose a little bit of weight, but have never been successful in doing it.”
Coach Spaulding and teammates have noticed the difference, too.
“He’s been great for us this year. He does a lot of the dirty work, the stuff that every team has to have,” coach Spaulding said.
“He’s very active on defense,” senior Landon O’Neal added. “Having him in the middle of our zone is perfect. He’s getting his hands on passes and making it harder for the ball to get in the post and in the short corner.”
Burton said working out in the sun, staying away from soda and eating healthier — which including “a lot of peanut butter and jellies” — contributed to his new look.
It had its challenges.
He worked for the family business in the summer, Burton Brothers Amusements, which provide entertainment, food and rides for fairs and festivals.
“I was working with the cotton candy machine, and I was constantly having to throw it away instead of eating it,” Burton said.
The senior’s change has helped him and helped the Royals get to today’s regional semifinal matchup against Southmont.
As his weight numbers went down, his basketball statistical numbers went up.
From his junior to senior season, he has showed improvements across the board in points, rebounds and blocked shots.
He is up in all categories, after averaging 3.8 points, 2.7 rebounds and going without a blocked shot last season.
“I guess I am more confident in the fact I know I can compete, speed-wise, better with other people,” Burton added.
“Even his attitude has changed,” coach Spaulding said. “He wasn’t a problem before, but it’s just been over-the-top enthusiastic and good. He’s one of those guys that has been willing to do the dirty stuff that doesn’t get a lot of credit.”