Wilmore steps in, Saints keep roling

January 07, 2011|By BOB PARASILITI |
  • Aaron Wilmore, Saint James boys basketball coach
Aaron Wilmore, Saint James boys basketball coach

HANCOCK — If Aaron Wilmore believed in omens, he probably would have left Saint James’ gym like his hair was on fire on Monday.

“We had our first practice after winter break and not everyone showed up,” he said. “... In fact, hardly any, except our core guys, were there.”

Wilmore took it in stride and he has a full head of hair to prove it. Instead, the Saints looked like they were in midseason form on Tuesday in a 78-46 win over Hancock to mark Wilmore’s first victory as the Saints’ new basketball coach.

He made it look like a seamless transition. He moved over after one season in the assistant coach’s position to replace former coach Mike Brooks, who relocated over Christmas break to become the assistant athletic director at Cazenovia (N.Y.) College.

Wilmore won’t admit it was that easy, but the transition has been in the works from the beginning of the season.

“Mike wanted me to take the job from the beginning of the season,” Wilmore said. “But I wanted a chance to sit and watch so I could build a rapport with the guys. So the transition hasn’t been that bad.”

The Saints didn’t seem to mind the new coach or lack of practice on Tuesday in handling a rebuilding Hancock team. Saint James hit eight 3-pointers — four in the first quarter, including three in the final 3:40 of the period — to take a 17-12 lead after eight minutes.

The Saints extended the lead steadily after the Panthers closed to within 30-26 in the final minute of the first half. Saint James scored the final seven points for a 37-26 halftime lead.

“Taking over hasn’t been that tough,” Wilmore said. “I’m getting a lot of help from my assistant (Juwuane Sandridge) and Avery (Wilmore, the Saints’ leading scorer and son of the coach) is like a coach on the floor for us.”

Saint James showed its versatility in the second half as Hancock worked to keep the ball out of the hands of Avery Wilmore.

Avery played decoy and passed the ball as Alex Wheeler, Leonard Livingston and Emmett Orfan took over. The trio combined for 22 points as the Saints outscored Hancock 41-20 in the second half.

The Saints lost Friday night at Potomac School, 58-46. But now that the formality of a first game and a first practice is out of the way, the Saints can start getting in position to be effective under the new reign of Aaron Wilmore.

“We just need to get our legs back after coming back from the break,” Aaron Wilmore said. “We had a great run in Florida before the break and we want to be able to mirror that success.”

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