Thursday, December 13, 2007

Hoops Notebook

Court Report This Week in Northern Region High School Basketball
Thursday, December 13, 2007; VA20

Even though the Herndon and South Lakes boys' basketball teams have new head coaches, both already understand the importance of Friday's game at Herndon.

"I'm very familiar with the Herndon-South Lakes game," said Hornets Coach Chris Whelan, who played at Herndon and graduated in 1996.

South Lakes Coach Darryl Branch, who graduated from the Reston school in 1989, played in the rivalry and was an assistant coach for 13 seasons before taking over the program.

"I enjoy the atmosphere at Herndon, having all the people on top of you like that," Branch said. "I remember being over there years ago as a player and just being so hot and having sweat coming off your face, and it hasn't changed as an assistant coach."

Whelan and Branch replaced coaches who built two of the area's most successful programs over the past two decades. Both were coached by the men they replaced.

In 23 seasons, Wendell Byrd posted a 441-153 record and led South Lakes to 12 district titles and six region titles. In 18 seasons, Gary Hall coached Herndon to a 319-146 record en route to six Concorde District titles and one regional title.

Herndon's 68-64 win over South Lakes last December gave Hall his 300th career victory.
"These players have grown up with each other, and they are friends," Whelan said. "We don't want it to become a personal battle. Players always want to show up their best friend on the other team."

Herndon, which had nine seniors from last season's 21-3 team graduate, will have the help of three transfers, Joey Marentette (Westfield), Jared Johnson (O'Connell) and Tucker Lucas (Ireton). Lucas, who scored seven points in Herndon's season-opening 45-38 win at Washington-Lee, is the younger brother of former Herndon star Ricky Lucas (Stony Brook).
South Lakes is led by senior guard Curtis Keys and senior forward Jay Bowman.

"Hopefully, we can handle them inside and use our speed to our advantage," Branch said.

Madison Coach Chris Kuhblank drew up the buzzer-beating play perfectly, and the Warhawks executed the scheme, known as "Dumbo," to perfection Friday. The result: a 66-64 win over Oakton.

With the game tied at 64 with three seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Kuhblank called timeout and called the play. Why "Dumbo"?

"We think that everyone is going to [defend] it dumb," Kuhblank said.
Senior forward Scott LeDuc, who led Madison with 17 points, ran toward guard Keith Moyer "screaming for the ball," Kuhblank said.

Moyer instead sent a lob pass to a streaking Collin Flaherty, who tipped in the offering to beat the buzzer. The tip-in gave Madison its third straight victory over Oakton.

"I was really proud of the pass and the catch," Kuhblank said. "It was textbook. That play was executed to a T."

At times during Jefferson's 1-20 finish last season, Colonials Coach Ed Grimm was tempted to bring up some of his junior varsity stars to help the varsity team.

"We just had a [junior varsity] group together that we didn't want to divide up," Grimm said. "We probably could have brought some of those kids up and won two or three more games, but the thinking was that we wanted them to learn how to win first. We bit the bullet on varsity."

Grimm's patience has paid off for Jefferson, which has won its first two games. Senior guard Will Riedel's leaning 12-foot jump shot with less than three seconds remaining gave Jefferson a 41-39 win over Yorktown on Friday and helped the Colonials surpass last season's win total.

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