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Second chance, first impression

January 11, 2002

Second chance, first impression



Naylor makes presence felt again with TJ

By DAN SPEARS
dans@herald-mail.com


FREDERICK, Md. - After last season's heartbreaking loss to Thomas Johnson in the Maryland Class 3A West semifinals, North Hagerstown junior forward Nate Naylor wanted another shot at the Patriots.

He got what he asked for, in a roundabout sort of way.

"I felt I played a real bad game against them last year in the playoffs," Naylor said before Monday's practice. "And I was hoping then to play them again. But to play them last year and then come here, that's weird."

Naylor nearly didn't get a last chance to play high school basketball.

A repeated year of school resulted in a bizarre eligibility debate at the end of the 2000-2001 school year and made Naylor ineligible to play sports in Washington County for his senior year.

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So he transferred to the Frederick County powerhouse before his final season.

"It's a lot like at North High," Naylor said. "We press a lot, and I love to play defense, that's a lot of what I've got to do. Jermaine (Thomas) and Thomas (Richard), they're the guys that are going to score.

"I'm still the same old Nate."

And that's a good thing for the Patriots, who lost four starters off last season's Class 3A state runner-up team. Adding a defensive stopper and transition specialist from a 21-3 team became a surprise bonus.

"It was a situation where he had played a lot of ball and had played in a good program," TJ coach Tom Dickman said. "He was a surprise for us and he's done fine. He's a competitor and that's helped him adjust to our way."

But it's still not North High.

"Coming over here was hard getting used to," Naylor said. "You've got to get into the flow of this program; you have to do things their way. I had to learn a whole new program.

"We've got a few new guys, so I wasn't the only one learning all of this. And Jermaine helps me out a lot. He'll let you know if you're doing something right or wrong."

It's something Naylor's gotten used to over the last year. His decision to leave North was tough and disappointing, and he talks with Hubs swingman Scott Rice about his old team often.

In the end, though, he knows it turned out right.

"I went to the North game at Walkersville, and I didn't think that I should have still been there," Naylor said. "Playing with Jermaine, Kevin (Rinehart), these guys, I'm having a lot of fun."

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