Hagerstown’s boys basketball Tigers are having a breakout season, and fifth-year head coach Bobby Jones had some observations last Saturday night about the program’s turnaround, which most recently was demonstrated with solid wins over Centerville and Lincoln to win the 2013 Wayne County Tournament.
As for the team’s 11 victories in a row to start the season, Jones had this key to making the turnaround.
“You’ve got to beat the teams with tradition,” Jones said. “We (the Hagerstown program) were lucky to beat Centerville, then we beat Union County. Now, we have to beat Winchester, and it’s not going to be easy.”
Hagerstown plays host to Winchester this Friday.
Jones was an assistant for the Falcons before becoming the Tiger coach.
“The thing about Winchester kids, and I know this first hand, they are going to play hard. They are going to play extremely hard, play tough, and are very well-coached. We have a tough task ahead of us,” Jones said.
It has been a gradual improvement for Hagerstown boys basketball during the Jones tenure.
“Each year, we’ve (the Hagerstown team) gotten a little bit better. Every group that I have had bought in to the defensive end of the floor. Sometimes, that (the emphasis on defense) may have hurt us, but if that is going to be a staple of the program, you have to stick with it,” the Tiger coach said. “We base our team on defense, because the offense can come and go. Luckily, we have guys that can shoot the ball, and bigs (taller players) that can shoot.”
Hagerstown hit 20 of 28 field goal attempts in the second half of the Wayne County Tournament title game.
“When you can score off your defense, and are as physical as our team is, it makes you a hard team to beat,” Jones said.
Hagerstown, 3-0 in the TEC, plays two straight Friday night conference games, at Union City on Jan. 25, then at Northeastern on Feb. 1.
Knights back in action
Like Hagerstown, Northeastern also remains undefeated in TEC play.
The Knights are 2-0 in the conference, and return to action Saturday at home against Knightstown.
Northeastern then plays host Jan. 18 to Union before returning to its TEC slate with a Jan. 25 trip to Cambridge City to face Lincoln.
That game will be a rematch of an overtime thriller in the Wayne County Tournament. Lincoln defeated Northeastern 53-51 to earn a spot in the final opposite Hagerstown.
“I’m happy with where our players are,” said Northeastern coach Brent Ross. “At this point in the season, we’re getting better, and that’s what you want. The kids are working hard. We had a great week of practice. We have to continue to work every day in practice just like we did this week and prepare ourselves.”
Golden Eagles on roll
Lincoln might have fallen in the county final to undefeated Hagerstown, but the Golden Eagles have steadily built momentum for themselves.
Lincoln’s boys basketball team is 6-3 overall, and had won five straight heading into Saturday’s championship game.
The Golden Eagles have two home games this weekend, first facing Tri High in TEC play on Friday before turning around to meet Union on Saturday.
The Rockets won the Randolph County Tournament by halting Winchester in Modoc this past Saturday.
“We treat every game, and this is going to sound weird, every game is a practice game for us. We want to get better,” said Lincoln coach Rodney Klein. ” … We have a long way to go, but I like our kids because they’re fighters.”