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Shives brings Blazers back to life

March 29, 2009|By TIM KOELBLE

The Clear Spring boys basketball team didn't have the type of magical season that gets capped with a state championship.

It was, however, a season in which the Blazers put Clear Spring back on the basketball map.

The Blazers challenged for the MVAL Antietam title, but finished second to Brunswick in the conference and had a 16-7 overall record.

It was a satisfying year for the Blazers and head coach Mark Shives, who is The Herald-Mail All-County Boys Coach of the Year.

"I enjoyed the season," said Shives, who played for the Blazers in the early 1990s. "It has been a slow progression, and this year, this group established themselves."

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Shives helped develop such players as All-County first-teamer Kyle Crist and second-teamers Cody Englehart and Brandon Glazer.

"There was a chemistry that developed with this team," said Shives. "They did offseason work on their own, got some strength and agility. I thought we became a team that was as athletic as any team around."

The season was the culmination of a slow build back to respectability. The Blazers' last winning season was in 2003-04 (18-6). They followed with back-to-back five-win seasons and a 10-win campaign last year.

Just as satisfying for Shives and his players was the support the team received from the Clear Spring community.

"The community got behind us," he said. "Home games, Friday nights, people were in the stands and the student body was huge for us. The wins were big for the students, too.

"You'd go through the town, pump gas, go into a coffee shop, people reading about us in the paper and were talking about our basketball team," Shives said.

Shives is a strict 'X-and-O's' type of coach. He played for current Williamsport coach Scott Mowbray at Clear Spring and spent time under Mowbray and Kevin Murphy as an assistant.

He's hoping the impact of the 2008-09 season carries over to next year and beyond.

"I hope the players keep spending time in the offseason working on their own," he said. "It's tough when you can't teach the game not having gym during the summer."

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