Last year, St. Georges surprised a lot of fans and experts by reaching the championship game of the DIAA Boys Basketball Tournament as a 10th seed.
The Hawks will likely be an even lower seed this year, but a deep run would surprise no one.
That’s because 6-foot-3 junior Lamar Hamrick, who emerged as a breakout star during last year’s postseason, recently regained his eligibility and joined St. Georges for his first game of the season last Tuesday. It was a roaring success, as Hamrick had 16 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and five steals in a 77-55 victory over Hodgson.
“He will draw a lot of attention, and he creates a lot of space and open shots for other guys,” Hawks coach Rod Griffin said of Hamrick. “For Kyson Rawls and Paul Brown out on the wing, now [defenses] just can’t run out and guard the perimeter. They have to first concentrate on Hamrick getting to the basket.”
That was evident immediately. Rawls poured in 28 points, Brown scored 19 and Tristan Guild added 11 against Hodgson. Hamrick popped onto everybody’s radar with 39 points in a state quarterfinal win over Sanford last year, and he averaged 26.6 points in St. Georges’ five tournament games. But the junior distributes as much as he shoots.
“He makes everybody better,” Griffin said. “He is a willing passer. … Last year, he was insanely hot during those tournament games. But he wants to pass the ball, and he will pass the ball sometimes even when he has a great look at the basket. He wants to get his teammates involved.”
The Hawks (10-9) have played one of the state’s toughest schedules, including a 70-57 loss at Trenton (N.J.) Catholic Academy on Saturday as they gave up 23 points to Syracuse signee Malachi Richardson.
But St. Georges is battle-tested, and could be even tougher if second-leading scorer Josh Williams (15 points per game) returns. Williams suffered a broken ankle against Howard on Jan. 29, but Griffin said the 6-foot junior could be back soon.
“I think we have a chance in every game that we play, as long as all the other guys keep playing at a high level,” Griffin said. “I think we do have a chance to make a really good push in the playoffs.”
Saluting the Spartans
The St. Mark’s wrestling team went 4-8 against a tough dual-meet schedule, but coach David Williams praised the Spartans’ captains after Saturday’s 41-27 loss to Caesar Rodney.
“They have to take care of mopping their own mats, rolling stuff out, doing their own things,” Williams said. “We videotape each other, because we don’t have managers. Overall this season, we overachieved. We have nothing to be ashamed of.”
Williams was a DIAA individual champion at 152 pounds for St. Mark’s in 1998, one of an overwhelming eight state champs on a legendary Spartans team. He works at St. Georges now and often arrives at St. Mark’s just in time for practice, leaving a lot of responsibility in the hands of senior captains Justin Engelmann, Thomas Otlowski, Kenan Megahed and Randy Mitchell.
“I ask a lot of them all the time,” Williams said. “They’re self-sufficient. They run themselves, and it’s the captains who lead all of that.”
A couple of the captains will be state-title contenders. Engelmann, who earned his 100th career victory last Thursday against Cape Henlopen, will be a threat at 126 after finishing fifth at 113 last year. Otlowski will be in the mix at 145 after finishing sixth at 138 in 2013.
Henlopen South chaos
Milford boys basketball coach Bob Spath may need to send a thank you note to Seaford.
The Blue Jays were struggling at 3-12 overall and 1-8 in the Henlopen South last week. Then they shocked conference front-runners Laurel (65-63) and Delmar (84-76) to open the door for Milford.
The Buccaneers (11-8, 9-2) can clinch the South title with a home victory over Delmar (11-6, 7-3) at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday. A Wildcats win would turn Thursday’s Laurel (12-5, 8-3) at Delmar game into a critical contest, as the winner would share the conference championship with Milford.
Milford is also in the driver’s seat for the Henlopen South girls title. The Buccaneers (14-5, 10-1) can wrap it up with a win at Delmar (5-13, 3-7) at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday. A Milford loss would give Woodbridge (14-4, 10-2) a share of the crown.
Contact Brad Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter: @BradMyersTNJ