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Taylor, Wildcats turn teams inside-out

January 19, 2007|by DAN KAUFFMAN

A generation ago, when the 3-point line was added to all levels of basketball, the game started to change.

The importance of dominant inside play was lessened - suddenly, a team full of sharp-shooting guards could take down a team despite a height disadvantage. Slowly but surely, many teams started gearing their offenses around creating open outside shots.

Well, it may be 2007, and yes, the game may have changed. But Williamsport's No. 6-ranked boys basketball team is taking an old-school approach: They're pounding the ball inside to 6-foot-5 senior Will Taylor.

"With today's game, with the 3-point line, everybody's outside-in, but we're the opposite," Wildcats coach Scott Mowbray said. "We want to pound it into him, and then we have some kids he can kick it back out to. Will is unselfish and we have kids who can hit the jumpers. We have a wide variety of what we can do offensively."

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But it all starts with the trimmed and toned Taylor, who is averaging 17.6 points and an area-best 12.3 rebounds per game.

"One thing compared to last year is he's in better condition physically," Mowbray said. "He's 25 pounds lighter and he's worked very hard on his game. He has good hands. He catches everything, and he shoots 70 percent from the floor. He was 11-for-11 Friday against South."

In fact, Taylor's shooting even better than 70 percent. He's made 75 of his 99 attempts, an astounding 76 percent clip which is a major reason the Wildcats are 8-2 overall and leading the MVAL Antietam with a 4-0 record.

But he's not the only reason. Sean Dixon, a 6-4 junior who transferred from Greencastle-Antrim before the season, is averaging 10.8 points and 6.0 rebounds, while senior guard Chad Poffenberger (9.5 points, 3.0 assists) and senior forward Chad Bikle (8.5 points) give the Wildcats added depth.

"We have three very good post players we can go to at any time, who give us strength on the defensive side as well as offensively," Mowbray said. "We have some young guards, they're getting better, and with the leadership of Bikle and Poffenberger, we're starting to jell.

"We have great team chemistry. That's one thing I really enjoy with this team. The guys like one another and hang with one another and pull for one another. They do a lot together and it's very neat."

Hubs' dominance ends

Boonsboro's 66-48 boys victory over North Hagerstown last Friday was the Warriors' first win over the Hubs since 1992. North had won 28 straight over Boonsboro and leads the series, 47-4.

"It was an emotional victory," Boonsboro coach Sam Connelly said. "North is struggling this year and we were just ready to play."

The Warriors rode the hot shooting of Adam Flook to the victory. Flook scored 38 points - the third-best single-game effort this season - to deny the Hubs a 29th straight win.

"Adam caught fire at the end of the second quarter," Connelly said "He's one of those kids that gets in a groove. I think he scored 17 straight."

Flook leads the Tri-State area with his 21.0 points-per-game average.

"He's really improved his game," Connelly said. "He's not just a one-dimensional shooter, he's a difficult matchup at 6-3. He can shoot over smaller guards and drive around bigger guys."

While Flook gets a lot of attention for his scoring exploits, once again point guard Mike DeBarge is quietly having a very good year. He's averaging 11.0 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 3.1 steals and 1.4 blocks per game.

"He's the heartbeat of our team," Connelly said. "He goes as hard as he can the entire game, never takes a play off, never comes down for a minute. He just plays to the point of exhaustion, both in games and in practice. ... Mike has a real edge to him that it's a game, but it's always serious to him. Every game, every play, there's no time to take time off."

Rising from obscurity

Waynesboro's young girls team is suddenly growing up right in front of coach Doug Stuart's eyes.

The Maidens (8-7) have won five of their last six games to move above .500 and, at 5-1, trail only Shippensburg (6-0) in the Mid-Penn Capital. It's heady stuff for what has traditionally been a downtrodden program.

"We haven't won a lot over the years, and not just the last couple years, I mean years," Stuart said. "You get a couple wins and our girls have really become a very confident team right now. We think we can go out and be competitive against anyone.

"It's amazing what winning can do. Practices are upbeat, it's just a different tone from last year."

Sophomore 5-10 forward Mallory Wishard is leading the way, averaging 15.6 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. She joins with 6-foot junior Gillian Hollen (6.4 points, 6.5 rebounds) to give the Maidens a tough front line.

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