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Hubs reload to stay on the right track

January 18, 2008|By DAN KAUFFMAN

After North Hagerstown's girls had six seniors graduate last spring - All-Area First Team guard Cara Thompson, All-Area Second Team guard Valentina Wheeler, Veronica Wheeler, Shawayna Morel, Kelly Toms and Christie Beachley - Hubs coach Barry Brown had to wonder how his team would follow up on last year's 21-4 campaign.

The answer - Just fine.

Led by a pair of juniors who are three-year starters - Kirksten Mitchell, who moved from forward to point guard this season, and center Larae Allen - No. 3 North is 8-2 overall and tied for second in the MVAL Piedmont at 2-1 with Frederick.

"When you have younger players who have been preparing for their moment to step up, this is what happens," Brown said. "They wanted to make this their team. ... We only have two seniors, and I couldn't be more pleased with the progress to date. We're only going to get better."

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Mitchell was averaging 14.1 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game through the Hubs' first nine games.

"She's always been a very versatile player," Brown said. "She can play all five positions, which can create matchup issues."

Allen has been a force in the paint with 13.3 points, 8.0 rebounds and 3.3 blocks per game through nine games.

"She's a quiet kid and she lets her game speak," Brown said. "She has the physical attributes and the mental approach it takes to succeed. Her best days are ahead of her. ... She has a lot of savvy and understands how to play defense. She was a back-to-the-basket player, and now she can hit 3s and put it on the floor."

Sophomore Alex Silva was averaging 6.7 rebounds per game, while Silva and junior Kishia Jackson have been tough defensively.

"The kid who sets the tone is Kishia. She very quietly does her job, hits big shots and plays great defensively," Brown said. "Alex is a fierce competitor. We want to get after it and play aggressively, and those two kids do it."

The fuss about Russ

St. James junior Mike Russ is no stranger to success. As a sop homore, he averaged 17.0 points and 9.4 rebounds and earned All-Area Second Team honors.

Russ has picked it up a notch this season. The 6-foot-1 forward leads the Tri-State area at 26.3 points per game.

"I think it's a combination of two things," Saints coach Mike Brooks said. "The first thing is his personal commitment to the team. ... He works so hard in the offseason that he's making over 50 percent of his shots. All summer long, he worked long hours in the gym working on his jump shot. He put in the effort.

"The second thing is, the other four guys on the court don't just stand there and watch the Mike Russ show. If we want to clear stuff for Mike, the other four guys have to be a threat. They're looking for their shot and I give them credit. We're shooting over 50 percent as a team. His points per game went up, but if you look at team points, last year we were at 50 points per game and now we're averaging 68. As a team we're taking better shots, we're being aggressive and it trickles down through him to everyone else."

Russ has scored 30 or more points in four games so far this season, and he's shooting 58.9 percent overall, including 62.4 percent from inside the 3-point arc.

St. James is averaging 67.9 points per game, fourth-best in the area. The Saints have made 288 of 556 shots (51.8 percent).

Masters of efficiency

Sure, points per game is a useful measure of a player's scoring ability. But it has its flaws - specifically, it doesn't show how many shots each player needed to reach that average.

Problem solved.

For the second straight year, here's a look at the points-per-shot statistics of area players averaging at least 10 points (boys) or eight points (girls) per game, whose coaches have submitted full shooting stats. Foul shots are not included.

BOYS

Vance Hosby, Jefferson - 170 points, 134 shots, 1.27 PPS.

Steven Beaver, Hancock - 152 points, 122 shots, 1.25 PPS.

T.K. Washington, St. James - 94 points, 78 shots, 1.21 PPS.

Mike Russ, St. James - 221 points, 185 shots, 1.19 PPS.

Steven Barthalow, Heritage - 185 points, 159 shots, 1.16 PPS.

John Duhring, Goretti - 163 points, 140 shots, 1.16 PPS.

Devin Gourdine, Broadfording - 184 points, 160 shots, 1.15 PPS.

Jordan Thurber, Clear Spring - 82 points, 73 shots, 1.12 PPS.

Armando Miller, Broadfording - 173 points, 156 shots, 1.11 PPS.

Dewey McDonald, Jefferson - 117 points, 106 shots, 1.10 PPS.

Greg Minnick, Williamsport - 110 points, 103 shots, 1.07 PPS.

Andrew Larson, CVCS - 132 points, 126 shots, 1.05 PPS.

Tim Null, Waynesboro - 176 points, 170 shots, 1.04 PPS.

Kevin Breslin, Goretti - 206 points, 204 shots, 1.01 PPS.

Terrell Rickard, Waynesboro - 251 points, 259 shots, 0.97 PPS.

Hamilton Stamper, Heritage - 138 points, 143 shots, 0.97 PPS.

Josh Edwards, Smithsburg - 114 points, 120 shots, 0.95 PPS.

Joe Mattei, North - 52 points, 55 shots, 0.95 PPS.

Dameatric Scott, Greencastle - 258 points, 274 shots, 0.94 PPS.

Josh Unger, Hancock - 92 points, 99 shots, 0.93 PPS.

Tyler Hester, Jefferson - 90 points, 97 shots, 0.93 PPS.

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