City schools set to renew rivalry

February 07, 2003|by DAN KAUFFMAN

There's a reason fans will pack North Hagerstown's gym tonight - or Saturday evening - for the second clash this season between the Hubs and the South Hagerstown Rebels.

Over the past four years, the Hubs-Rebels games have become the hottest prep rivalry in the area, and an increasingly difficult ticket and seat to find.

"A lot of the other high school coaches ... cut practice early and go see that game," South coach Bob Starkey said. "Why do they want to see that game? It's because of the (up-tempo) style and the intensity, and as long as I'm coaching, that's the way I'm going to have them playing. Not only is that the game the fans want to see played, that's the game the players want to play."


"What makes it big, is a lot of people come to this game that don't go to any other game, and that's good," Hubs coach Tim McNamee said.

The North-South rivalry promises close contests - the Hubs beat the Rebels 69-64 in the first meeting of 2003 on Jan. 15 - and a breakneck pace.

"Both teams play so doggone hard against each other, a lot of times it does come down to the wire," McNamee said.

North (14-3, 10-3 Monocacy Valley Athletic League) still has a conference title in its sight, though the Hubs are two games behind Middletown in the loss column. A win against South (10-5, 7-5) will keep North in the title hunt.

"They're all big," McNamee said of the MVAL games. "Everybody in the league has said it, there are seven or eight teams that can win any night. I don't think there are any upsets. Tomorrow night's just another big game ... in a long line of big games for us.

"I don't want to not put importance (on the South game) that way, but if we treat every game big, it's another big one."

The Rebels, meanwhile, are using the rest of their regular-season slate to prepare for the playoffs.

"Right now, we're using our remaining games as practice games for the tournament, and we'll take whatever happens to us in the MVAL," Starkey said. "It's out of our hands now."

As usual, expect both teams to want to try to outrace the other to the offensive end. When both coaches were asked if perhaps they would slow things down to try to throw the other off, both echoed similar wisdom.

"We're not going to quit doing what we do best, and that's what we do best, is run," Starkey said. "I don't imagine we'll have too much trouble getting them to run with us, and that's what draws people into the game. They're going to see the game the way it's supposed to be played."

"We always look to run," McNamee said. "Sometimes we don't run enough, sometimes we run when we shouldn't. The key is recognition, and the key for us is when we rebound, we run well, and when we don't, we won't."

As for who will win, the Hubs will come in as slight favorites, but the key word is slight.

"They have to be favored," Starkey said. "They have a better record, they beat us the last time out, they're bigger and they have more experience. We're just the little underdogs."

McNamee perhaps put it best: "Let's face it. Anybody can win it."

Tickets for today's North Hagerstown-South Hagerstown boys/girls basketball doubleheader at North will go on sale at 5 p.m. at the gate. Ticket price for adults and students is $4.

The girls game tips off at 6 p.m., with the boys game to follow at about 7:30.

In the event Washington County schools are closed today, the games will be played Saturday at 5 and 6:30. Tickets will go on sale at 4.

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