Washington County boys hoops preview

Hubs, Rebels may return as showstoppers

Hubs, Rebels may return as showstoppers

December 05, 2008|By DAN KAUFFMAN

It wasn't that long ago - say, six or seven years back - when a North Hagerstown vs. South Hagerstown boys basketball game would pack either school's gym and was a must-see event in town.

It might be a good idea to mark Dec. 23 and Feb. 17, 2009 on the calendar. When the Hubs and Rebels clash this season, it may harken back to previous high-intensity battles.

Both North (6-17 last season) and South (10-14 last season) figure to be significantly better, and it could mean big things in the MVAL Piedmont and Class 2A West - and bigger things when the Hubs visit the Rebels later this month and South travels to North in February.

"With the potential (South) has to be a strong team, and our potential to grow into the same kind of team, it should be a battle," Hubs coach Kevin Hartman said.


"It's early this year, too. It's before Christmas, so that puts a different spin on that game and how quick you can be ready for it," Rebels coach Kevin Naylor said. "We'll see how it goes, it should be interesting."

The Hubs return Herald-Mail All-County First Team senior forward Brent Bell (11.9 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.1 steals per game last season) and a pair of Piedmont honorees in junior forward Joe Mattei (10.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.1 blocks) and senior guard Allen Sandberg (10.5 points, 37.3 percent 3-point shooting).

"I'm glad that we have them all coming back at the same time," Hartman said. "They worked very hard over the summer, had a good summer in our summer league and carried it over to the preseason."

The Rebels' top returner is All-County Second Team senior guard Shane Santell (11.4 points, 2.7 assists, 2.0 steals). Forwards Cory Shank and Bryson Bryant also are back, and three newcomers by way of transfer - forwards Antoine Malone and Devonte Morel, each of whom previously attended North, and Iver Silva, who attended Tuscarora - all figure prominently into South's plans.

"So far, practice has been going pretty good. It looks like we're picking up on things," Naylor said. "We'll be quick, a good shooting team, a good transition team. I'm really enthused to see how it turns out. We'll be able to slow it down and run sets, as well as get up and down the floor."


The Warriors have a wealth of experience returning and could contend for the MVAL Antietam title.

"The kids are really buying into it," coach John Taylor said. "They feel really confident and they know we have a lot of leaders. Shane (Lowery) and Keith (Welch) both played on the soccer team that went to states. Tyler (Walsh) was the quarterback for our 9-2 team. Those players are coming from good programs and they're bringing that leadership in and guiding their team."

Senior forward Shane Zbir (10.2 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.6 blocks) was an All-County Second Team selection last season. Senior guards Lowery (9.0 points, 2.8 assists, 2.3 steals) and Seth Poffenberger (11.3 points) earned honorable mention.

"Our quickness is going to be our No. 1 strength. We have four very quick guards," Taylor said. "Shane's our focus inside. If he dominates early, it totally transforms the complexion of the game. They have to double down and we can kick the ball out and get the guards shooting the ball."


The Lions were one of the county's most improved teams last season, and with All-County First Team forward Armando Miller (15.0 points, 7.4 rebounds) back for his senior season, they should be good again.

"Armando works just as hard during the offseason as he does during the season to be the best player he can," coach Burnie Clutz said. "A coach's job is whole lot easier when you have a nucleus that begins with Armando."

Senior forwards Anthony Borum and Steven Economos and junior guard Gabe Hirsch also return. The four returnees will help guide a group of sophomores led by swingman Pete Cradduck.

"They're cautiously optimistic," Clutz said. "We're not big, but we are fast, so we're going to play up-tempo, a lot of pressure 'D' and just see where that takes us."

Clear Spring

The Blazers' first order of business is to try to fill the shoes of All-County First Team guard Keith Gilchrist, who graduated.

"Anytime you lose a guy like Keith, you have to find a way to plug that hole," coach Mark Shives said. "He was the best defensive player we had."

All-County Second Team guard Kyle Crist (11.7 points, 3.0 steals) returns, along with senior forwards Jordan Thurber and Jordan Lavender and a pair of juniors in center Cody Englehart and guard Brandon Glazer.

"We're very athletic so it will be interesting to see how they all mesh together," Shives said. "We definitely need someone to step up as a leader. We have no identity right now."

Grace Academy

Center Keith Sandell is the Knights' only senior, though he's joined by five returning juniors - point guard Zack Morgan and forwards Sean Koontz, Kenny Frederickson and Caleb Serafini. Freshmen Daniel Frederickson and Luke Bunting will see playing time.

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