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North, South renew rivalry in familiar situation

January 15, 2002

North, South renew rivalry in familiar situation



By DAN SPEARS
dans@herald-mail.com


The North Hagerstown and South Hagerstown boys basketball teams enter tonight's first game of the City Series with similar scripts to last season.

The two are atop the Monocacy Valley Athletic League standings, and South - the Tri-State area's final undefeated team - holds a one-game lead nearing the midway point of the double round-robin league schedule.

In 2002, though, the Rebels need a rewrite.

North swept last season's two hotly contested games to win the MVAL by one game for its first league title since the 1971-72 Tri-State League. Like last season, the Hubs will have to rally from an early deficit in the standings after Brunswick handed them a 75-68 league loss on Dec. 14.

"But every game is different," Brunswick coach Jim Sklencar said. "The first time, we had them running backward. The second time (a 71-54 North win at the Doub Christmas Tournament), they had us running backward. Every game is its own separate story."

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Tonight's game at North will hinge on the fortunes of the team's biggest stars: swingman Scott Rice for No. 6 North (10-2, 5-1) and Domonique Richmond for No. 4 South (10-0, 7-0). The two both rank in the area top 10 in scoring, assists, steals and rebounding.

"Both of them have good players and both have one very good player," Sklencar said. "With Rice and Richmond, it takes you to a different level. And the interesting thing is that both of them are so unselfish. They can score 10 and still be most valuable player for them."

On their way to the top of the standings, North and South have taken out both the third-place Railroaders and fourth-place Middletown. Sklencar and Middletown coach Jon Jarrett both said rebounding would be a crucial piece to the puzzle ... Jarrett said it's where North has an advantage.

"They've got speed and height," Jarrett said. "Even if they don't shoot well, they've got the size to get to the second shot."

"North's big, but they play bigger," Sklencar said. "And South, they're big enough, but they're real athletic. They can rebound for their size."

All it leaves is the final piece of the story: the end.

"I would hate to have to predict who's going to win," Sklencar said. "They're both so good. I always felt North plays a little better at home, and South shoots better at South than when they go away. But South is playing so well; Bob (Starkey, South coach) has done a terrific job and they're firing on all cylinders."

"I think North is the better one of the two," Jarrett said. "But they're both a level above everyone else in the league right now."

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