Hebron's Tonkins breaks through Senior center shows versatility

January 10, 1993|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,Staff Writer

Patience is paying off for Mount Hebron center Phil Tonkins.

As a sophomore, he was unhappy with his playing time, but, Tonkin said, "My dad kept telling me to be patient and my time would come."

Judging by Friday's game against Centennial, Tonkins' time has come. He outplayed Centennial's highly regarded Damian Biggs their head-to-head matchup to help unranked Mount Hebron (7-2) beat the 15th-ranked Eagles, 62-60, in their league opener.

The 6-foot-5, 190-pound Tonkins led all scorers with 22 points -- eight in the fourth quarter. The senior had five rebounds and contributed in ways that don't appear in box scores.

His ball-handling helped break Centennial's press.

During a one-minute period of the second quarter, he had a steal, made an assist and drew a charge. That kind of play sparked Mount Hebron to a 12-3 run and a 30-22 lead.

Tonkins also wasn't afraid to dive on the floor with Biggs to earn his team a jump ball.

"It's those little things that put everyone over the top and move you to the next level," Tonkins said. "Our coach [Scott Robinson] stresses those little things."

Tonkins is averaging 13.1 points and 5.0 rebounds. His high game was 24 points against Fallston.

But Robinson thinks Tonkins played his best game against Loyola.

"He played well on the boards that game and held his own against three good athletes that Loyola has inside [including Wes Unseld Jr.]," Robinson said.

Tonkins enjoys playing a low-post game, even though he is Mount Hebron's best three-point shooter and shot from long range a lot last season when he averaged 10.4 points and 5.1 rebounds.

Last season, Mount Hebron won 17 games and finished second in the league, a game behind five-time champion Oakland Mills. Tonkins helped win an important game against Wilde Lake with a three-pointer at the buzzer that sent the contest into overtime.

This season, during a three-point shooting contest after the championship game of Mount Hebron's Holiday Tournament, Tonkins made 16 three-pointers in one minute to win the contest.

"This year, I'm staying down low because that's where my team needs me," Tonkins said. "If I shoot well from down low, it gives me the confidence to shoot further out if I have to at some point."

Robinson said, "He worked hard this past summer and improved his jumper. He handles the ball well for his size, and in the past couple of weeks, he and Eric Walthall and Faisal Khan, our seniors, have pulled us together."

The Vikings needed all the leadership they could muster after losing two starters for the season during a one-week period before Christmas.

Although he takes the game seriously, Tonkins is a good-natured player with an upbeat personality. He's a co-captain along with Walthall.

"We're having fun," Tonkins said. "Coach stresses that."

Tonkins grew up in Woodlawn. His family moved to Ellicott City when he was in the sixth grade, and he played in the Howard County Youth Program's travel league.

Tonkins worked on his game last summer, playing with Vikings team mates in summer leagues at Watkins Mills and Liberty. The team finished second in both.

Tonkins also attended Nike Basketball Camp in New Jersey for a week.

"The competition there was good and I played the low post against bigger guys," Tonkins said. "I held my own, and that gave me the confidence that I could hold my own in the county."

Tonkins played football for the Vikings last fall and is a member of several clubs.

He is thinking about attending Gettysburg College next fall, and hopes to continue playing basketball at that level.

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