Aberdeen keeps making the grade

Boys basketball team wins on court, in class

Notebook

February 25, 2007|By Bill Free | Bill Free,Sun Reporter

It was the night before the Aberdeen boys conference championship game, but Eagles coach Richard Hart wasn't discussing basketball.

Instead, he was proudly rattling off the grades his players had accumulated the first semester - mostly A's and B's. Hart said his team spends two hours a day before 4:30 p.m. practices "in my room here conducting a study hall."

The next night, he was happily talking about the Eagles' 62-47 victory over Perryville for their fourth consecutive Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference title.

These days, it seems that everything is coming up positive for Aberdeen.

Junior forward Devon Branch led the Eagles (14-7) in Wednesday's championship game, scoring 21 points and contributing seven rebounds and four assists. Branch, who returned from academic ineligibility the first semester, is averaging 19.6 points in six games.

Hart said that Branch has not only lifted the team with his talent since his return, but he "has slowly but surely blended in to the team in a way everyone realizes that it's not about Devon Branch - it's still about the team."

Stephan Robinson added 13 points for Aberdeen and Roger Murayi was the top rebounder with 10.

Sophomore point guard Devon Sadler has been solid for the Eagles all season, averaging 13.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists, and Hart also praised seniors Darnell Blevins and Brandon Newell (12 points, nine rebounds per game).

"I almost hesitate to give you statistics," Hart said, "because the team is not about statistics. One day it could be Stephan, and the next day it could be Darnell Blevins, and the next day it could be Roger Murayi."

Hart has been especially impressed with Murayi, who was cut in preseason and then asked to come back after two players quit early in the season.

"He impressed us when he came back, not by being spectacular, but by doing all the little things that coaches love to see players do," Hart said.

Murayi is spectacular in the classroom. He is ranked No. 1 in his class with a 4.2 grade point average, and he is president of the National Honor Society and the senior class.

Confident coach

A lot of coaches try to downplay preseason optimism about their teams, but Bel Air girls lacrosse coach Suzanne Taylor isn't one of them.

"I'm excited about my team," said Taylor, who had been the team's assistant coach the past three seasons. "We're going to do very well. We have a lot of talent on this team.

"I'd say we would probably be in the top three in Harford County," added Taylor, who said she expects Fallston and North Harford to also be among the county's best.

Practice in the county begins on Thursday.

Stealing a title

The No. 14 Fallston girls basketball team recorded 25 steals during its 57-37 victory over North East of Cecil County that gave the Cougars their third straight UCBAC title.

With the game being played on a wider court than usual at Harford Community College, Fallston coach Vern Brown knew his team was quicker and could apply more pressure. The Cougars did that at every opportunity, trapping and pressing all over the court, forcing 12 turnovers in the first quarter alone.

Jess Harlee led the Cougars with six steals.

bfree7066@hotmail.com

Jeff Seidel contributed to this article.

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