All-County Girls Basketball: Naylor steps in, takes Rebels higher

March 23, 2012|By DANIEL KAUFFMAN |
  • South Hagerstown's Nate Naylor is the 2011-12 Herald-Mail Washington County Girls Basketball Coach of the Year.
South Hagerstown's Nate Naylor is the 2011-12 Herald-Mail Washington County Girls Basketball Coach of the Year.

As the interim head coach of South Hagerstown’s girls basketball team, Nate Naylor led the Rebels to heights they haven’t seen since a Maryland Class 2A state semifinals appearance in 1995.

Filling in for Amy Deeds (maternity leave), Naylor guided South and its three superb sophomores — Katrice Dickson, Tayana Stewart and Chelsey Scott — to a 17-8 overall record and an 11-3 mark that was good enough for second place in the MVAL Antietam.

Naylor is The Herald-Mail’s 2011-12 Washington County Girls Basketball Coach of the Year.

“We had a rule that every day we had to work hard and get better,” said Naylor, who learned the coaching ropes from his father — Rebels boys basketball coach Kevin Naylor. “We had a very young team, so we want to make sure every day we step foot in the gym, we work hard and never give up.”

It’s been a long and often trying road for the Rebels since their one appearance at the state tournament capped a 22-2 season in 1994-95.

South went 11-10 the following season, then had 12 straight losing seasons — punctuated by an ugly 55-game losing streak spanning three years, from January 2006 until January 2009.

Under Deeds — whose first season as head coach was in 1998-99 — the Rebels started turning things around, going 12-11 in 2009-10 for their first winning season since 1995-96.

A very young South squad struggled to a 4-18 record last year, but turned things around under Naylor this season, using a run-and-gun style to bring some excitement back into the program.

“We’ve seen a lot more support from our fans, our school, and it started with our principal (Dr. Timothy Dawson) and him coming to games and spreading the word about how good we were,” Naylor said. “This is my fourth year here, I had been coaching the JV team, and we had a lot more support this year.”

South athletic director Mike Tesla confirmed Wednesday that Deeds has said she will not return as head coach next season. Naylor plans on applying for the position in hopes of getting the “interim” tag taken off.

Naylor already has the Rebels preparing for what they hope are bigger and better things following a loss to top-seed Damascus in the Class 3A West semifinals that ended this season.

“They’re excited. They were upset about the loss to Damascus and they’re already back in the weight room getting ready for next year,” Naylor said. “We didn’t want to be happy with the little bit of success we had this year, we want to build on that for next year and the expectations are a lot higher for them now.”

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