Saturday, December 15, 2007

Boys Basketball

South Lakes Gets Assist From Byrd
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Saturday, December 15, 2007; E09

South Lakes-Herndon has long been one of the area's most storied boys' basketball rivalries.

Before last night's game, first-year Seahawks coach Darryl Branch, seeking to end a losing streak to the Hornets that had lasted more than three years, reached out to the man he replaced -- Wendell Byrd -- in an attempt to quell his own frayed nerves.

The conversation paid dividends, as the Seahawks turned back the Hornets, 68-59, in a packed gym in Herndon.

"I talked to Wendell this morning," Branch said. "He told me he was coming to the game."

Byrd, who coached South Lakes for 23 years before stepping down last spring, was indeed in attendance to watch his former team. But these players are Branch's now, and they knew the importance of the win for their new coach.

"It's big for our coach because it's his first year," said South Lakes forward Jay Bowman, who scored 17 points to go with five rebounds and two blocks. "We just wanted to get the win for Branch."

Branch, an assistant to Byrd for 13 years, earned South Lakes' first win over Herndon since the 2003 Northern Region final, and it was the first win in what Herndon Athletic Director Mike Mahoney called a "new era" in the series.

Herndon also was sporting a new coach in Chris Whelan, a 1996 Herndon graduate who replaced Gary Hall, his former coach.

Herndon senior guard Nicco Berry made six three-pointers for a game-high 18 points, but four Seahawks scored in double figures to give South Lakes (3-1) its third straight victory.
Herndon dropped to 1-2.

"This was intense," Branch said. "I love this atmosphere. I would like to play in a bigger venue to get more people into the game, but there's something about playing here."

Bowman scored 11 of 17 points in the first quarter to help the Seahawks take an 18-16 lead. Following three ties and three lead changes in the first quarter, South Lakes never trailed and built a 12-point lead in the third quarter.

Senior guard Curtis Keys added 15 points and A.J. Price scored nine of his 13 points in the second half to fend off a late charge by Herndon, which cut the lead to three with 3 minutes 55 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

"It's crazy," Price said. "I don't know any other way to explain this. All rivalries are exciting and everyone wants to win, so it's a good feeling to win one."

South Lakes 68, Herndon 59

Not in the Box Score:
Herndon's administration hired 12 police officers to control a venue that had sold out by 6:15 p.m. and was standing room only before the start of the 6:00 p.m. girls' game.

Transfers Help: Herndon got 24 of its points from transfers. Tucker Lucas (O'Connell) scored 10 points and Joey Marentette (Westfield) added 14 points.

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