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Rebels' run was tribute to Nick Scallion

March 13, 2011
  • Bob Parasiliti
Bob Parasiliti

Sometimes, things just happen for a reason.

Call it destiny or coincidence, but it’s amazing how certain events seem to coincide with other recent happenings.

In a way, South Hagerstown’s trip to the Maryland Class 3A boys basketball state tournament falls into that category. It wasn’t planned this way, yet it is kind of fitting that the Rebels returned to College Park just months after the death of Nick Scallion, the man who led the Rebels to their first (and only) Maryland Class 1A championship in 1974.

Scallion is many years removed from teaching at the school, but the efforts of that team are entrenched in Rebel history. That 1974 team is the last Washington County team to win a state title in boys basketball, completing the season with a 26-0 record.

For this year’s trip, Scallion was replaced by coach Kevin Naylor. The role of 1974 stars Mike Brashears, Chuck Hipp and Stan Jones were being played by Andre Pierre, Devon King and Darico Provitt.

Over time, the styles of play and uniforms have changed along with the names of the players, so there is no real parallel between these teams. But still, you could almost hear a little bit of Scallion in this Rebels’ team.

Some of Scallion’s quotes from the 30th anniversary of the 1974 championship could also fit the march of this year’s Rebels to the state tournament.

“To me, a sign of a good team was one that had players with bruised elbows and knees.”
Scallion controlled his team with a Marine mentality, which made disciplined defense one of the most important parts of the game.

The 1974 Rebels are remembered for their all-out efforts. This year’s group found success in playing tough defense. South entered Thursday’s state semifinal game allowing just 48 points per game, which takes much effort and bruising.

“As a coach, you never know that it could happen to you. To get a bunch like that that has honor, pride, loyalty and togetherness is something. It doesn’t happen often.”

Scallion knew the 1974 team was destined for great things from the day he saw that group playing as kids.

Naylor probably never had the same luxury, but he has said that this team exhibited all the qualities Scallion saw in his championship team. For these Rebels, it took a little time to realize it.

“Anything you do and do well, there is a satisfaction. Winning feels good. I would say that was a very important time in our lives. It was one of the greatest things.”

Ask any of the 1974 Rebels and every player will tell how going to that state tournament and spending time under Scallion’s tutelage shaped the rest of their lives. Time will tell with this next generation of Rebels, but Naylor’s coaching has had an impact.

This trip by South Hagerstown to the state tournament wasn’t as successful as its 1974 counterparts, but these Rebels showed some of the same championship qualities. Remember, times and styles have changed.

There may never be another team like the one coached by Scallion. His legacy is secure.

But if there was ever a chance to honor the school’s former coach, this was it.

You have to believe that Scallion was watching all this intently from the best possible seat.

Bob Parasiliti is a Herald-Mail sports writer. He can be reached at 301-791-7358 or by e-mail at bobp@herald-mail.com.

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