County rivals ready to tip off tourney

County rivals ready to tip off tourney

News

County rivals ready to tip off tourney

By

Weather has yet to allow Hagerstown’s and Lincoln’s boys basketball teams to square off in Tri-Eastern Conference play this season.

Same for the Northeastern-Centerville boys and girls.

Both hope to do so Thursday in the opener of this year’s Wayne County Tournament. Hagerstown athletic director Gerry Keesling said Tuesday the tournament was still scheduled to start Thursday with Centerville’s girls taking on Northeastern at 6 p.m., followed by Lincoln vs. Hagerstown.

The Hagerstown-Lincoln semifinal will be a rematch of last year’s championship.

“We didn’t play them because of the weather, so it’ll be interesting,” Lincoln coach Rodney Klein said. “Hagerstown’s very, very talented. Thorin (Stage) and (Bryan) Mathews are two of the best guards in this part of the state and we’re going to have to play well. It’s on their home floor, so that’s always a huge advantage for them.”

Hagerstown (5-2) won the Wayne County title last year 79-50 over the Golden Eagles (3-3) and ended an eight-year Centerville reign in the process.

Centerville (3-4) squares off with Northeastern (8-2) Friday night in the other semifinal.

Northeastern dropped its season opener 63-58 at Monroe Central. Then, the Knights went on an eight-game winning streak, before falling to Union County in the Northeastern Holiday Tournament.

A Northeastern at Centerville doubleheader was postponed earlier this season and rescheduled for Jan. 25.

“I think everybody looks forward to the Wayne County tourney,” said Northeastern boys coach Brent Ross. “I know a lot of these teams end up playing three times, but still, there is just something about winning the Wayne County tourney.

“It’s been a few years for us. I know we had our run there and we won three in a row. Centerville, which we play, took it to a new level.”

Centerville’s run of eight straight county titles started in the 2004-05 season. Northeastern’s last county crown was in 2003-04. Lincoln last won the title in the 1999-2000 campaign.

“This year’s tournament is wide open,” Ross said. “I think we have a great shot at having a chance at winning it.”

In girls play, Centerville (2-9) and Northeastern (1-9) face off at 6 p.m. Thursday, before Lincoln (5-6) and Hagerstown (9-4) play Friday at 6 p.m.

Friday’s game, too, is a rematch of last year’s championship, which the Golden Eagles won 51-38.

“The kids are looking forward to it,” said Hagerstown coach Chris Oliger. “We’re young. We’ve gotten better. We’re looking forward to playing them. It should be fun.”

Lincoln’s girls stopped Hagerstown again a week later in TEC play, but the Tigers won the third meeting come sectional time.

This year, Hagerstown leads the TEC with a 4-0 record, while Lincoln is among three teams with a 3-1 TEC mark.

“We’re just going to take it one game at a time,” Lincoln coach John Lewellen said. “It’s going to be an uphill battle with them. Chris has got them playing really good ball right now.”

Hagerstown’s boys defeated Centerville 61-49 earlier this season, while the Tiger girls took down the Bulldogs 49-41.

Those have been the only two games contested between teams competing in the Wayne County tournaments.

“It’s a big tournament for the county and everybody gets up for it,” Centerville girls coach Jason Searcy said. “It’s a big tournament that we’re looking forward to.”

Latest

More USA TODAY High School Sports