N. Carroll finds some winning ways

Panthers approaching boys basketball games with improved attitude



January 03, 2003|By Rich Scherr and Jeff Seidel | Rich Scherr and Jeff Seidel,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

In a down year for county boys basketball, an unexpected team appears ready to step up.

North Carroll, which in recent years has taken a back seat to powers such as South Carroll and Westminster, is off to a 4-3 start and already has beaten Francis Scott Key, expected to be one of the county's best, and Frederick, an upper-echelon team from the Central Maryland Conference.

Under new coach Craig Abercrombie, the Panthers have shown as much promise as any local team, including the Cavaliers and Owls.

"When we play a full game, I think we have as good a chance as anybody in the county," said Abercrombie, an assistant coach last season in Yuma, Ariz. "We're growing every game."

One telltale sign, said Abercrombie, is the team's attitude. After playing "terribly" in their season-opening loss, Abercrombie said his players acted almost as if they had expected to lose.

Last week, however, following an overtime loss to Centennial in the finals of the North Carroll Tournament - a game that the Panthers once controlled - he said they were noticeably "upset."

"In the past, I think they just accepted that they lost," Abercrombie said.

Leading the way have been a pair of senior forwards, Kyle Reese and Danny Kahline.

Reese, 6 feet 2, has averaged 15 points and 7.5 rebounds and played a major role in his team's 59-52 overtime win over Frederick, scoring 22 on 8-of-11 shooting and by making all of his six free throws. Kahline, at 6-1, is averaging 10 points and 8.5 rebounds. Most of his scoring comes after offensive rebounds, and he is shooting well over 50 percent from the field.

Another increasingly large factor has been center Justin Petrecca, a 6-foot-8 senior playing varsity ball for the first time. Petrecca has started to provide an inside presence for the Panthers, especially on defense.

Running a motion offense reminiscent of Princeton's, with an emphasis on passing and backdoor cuts, North Carroll continues to show that it could be a major factor in the race for the Carroll County title. Abercrombie hopes that beating a quality opponent, Frederick, was a sign of things to come.

"I was tremendously surprised about the way we played," he said. "It's tough to get over that hump where you go down the stretch in a tight game and win them. It's one thing to get close, but it's another to be able to hold on to win, and we did."

Holiday champions

Three county basketball teams walked away from various holiday tournaments with championships.

Westminster's boys (4-2) beat Parkville, 73-61, in the title game of the Parkville Holiday Hoopfest. Brandon Costley scored 24 for the Owls after scoring 19 in an opening-round win against Perry Hall.

A pair of girls teams, Century and South Carroll, also won their tournaments. Century took the North Carroll Tournament with a 43-35 win over the host team. South Carroll won its division of the Woodlawn Tournament, beating Bel Air, 38-37.

New faces power Key

Francis Scott Key's wrestling team has gotten a lot of help from first-year starters en route to its impressive 4-1 record.

Sean Forney (103 pounds), Reuben Gill (112), Tony Morris (171) and Tom Rush (215) had a combined 33-12 record in the team's first five matches, showing no signs of rookie problems.

Gill has been the most impressive, winning all 10 of his matches. Coach Bill Hyson said the Eagles were hoping from good things from Gill but that going 10-0 exceeded those expectations.

"He's done a good job adapting," Hyson said about the freshman.

Morris and Rush both have 8-4 records. Morris, a senior, ran indoor track in past winters, but with that program not happening this winter, he opted for wrestling.

"He's doing a real nice job for us," Hyson said. "He's a good athlete and is picking things up really well."

Rush, a sophomore, moved up from the JV and, said Hyson, is adjusting quickly to varsity wrestling.

Forney is 7-4 and picked up a huge win in the team's tough one-point loss to North Hagerstown last week. He's also placed in both tournaments the team has been in.

The Eagles are rather young, with seven of 14 starters being freshmen or sophomores.

Key runs into another test this weekend, when it heads to the Garrett County Invitational at Northern-Garrett. That should give the Eagles another good barometer of how far they've come this season.

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