Boys basketball: Tolsia looks for leadership by committee
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Jacob Copley was one of Class AA's most incendiary players in guiding Tolsia to the 2012 State Tournament semifinals.
Copley, a 6-foot-4 guard who averaged 22.8 points and lit up Magnolia for a tournament-high 40 points in a memorable, 67-59 triple-overtime win in the quarterfinals, provided Rebels Coach Jason Hatfield with a challenge every prep basketball coach would love to have when the star player moved on to the WVU Tech program this season.
The problem is simple enough: how do you replace a superstar and account for not only his production but also his leadership abilities?
"On any given night we've got five or six kids that can step up and score in double figures," Hatfield said last week after three Rebels - forward Brandon Clark, center Austin Brewer and guard Morgan Stacy - reached double digits in a 43-39 win at Herbert Hoover.
Clark had 12 points while Brewer and Stacy each scored 11.
"Up to this point in the year, that's what it's been: leadership by committee. When we're successful, we've had three, four and once even five guys in double figures," Hatfield said. "They all might be 11 points, but we've got five guys and that's the way it's got to be.
"Nobody's just going to be able to step up and fill the shoes that Jacob left. Terry (Davis) didn't score that many tonight, but up to now he's been our leading scorer this season."
Copley has since left WVU Tech, and is expected to enroll at Marshall for the spring semester and focus solely on his studies.
Davis had just four points in the win against Hoover, but sank a pair of crucial free throws in the waning seconds to put the game out of the Huskies' reach.
The Rebels are 4-5 entering a key showdown Tuesday at home against unbeaten Scott. The Skyhawks handed Tolsia a 57-46 loss in a mutual season opener on Dec. 7 in Madison.
A loss to Mingo Central followed for Hatfield's team, which has also dropped games to Red Springs, N.C.-based Macdonald Academy, Hazard (Ky.) Cordia, and Belfry (Ky.).
"Their record is a little misleading," Hoover Coach Jeff Gandee said. "That's the toughest team we've faced so far, and I think they're going to be right there in the thick of things to win the Cardinal Conference championship."
Hoover is 5-2 after a 45-34 win over Ravenswood on Saturday night. The Huskies are 1-2 in league play, while Tolsia is 2-2.
Without a breakout scorer, Tolsia has relied more on its defensive efforts in the first half of the season. The team gives up an average of 53.9 points per game, a number that decreases to 45.8 when only in-state opponents are considered.
"When we buckle down and set our minds to it, we're a good defensive basketball team. We're damn good defensively when we buckle down and play," Hatfield said. "We can play defense when we want to. It's just a matter of getting them to want to."
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LUKE EDDY'S 44-point barrage against Winfield last week put the George Washington senior guard within striking distance of the 1,000-point mark for his career.
Perhaps more importantly, it put the inexperienced Patriots at 5-2, a mark that will likely land Coach Rick Greene's team on the fringe of the Associated Press Class AAA Top 10 when the first poll of the season is released today.
Eddy is averaging 26.1 points this season, and has 897 career points. At his current pace, Eddy should surpass the 1,000-point mark Jan. 16, when the Patriots play host to Hurricane (5-2).
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THE CARDINAL Conference standings could get a further shakeup Friday, when Scott (8-0, 5-0) visits Poca (7-1, 3-1). The Dots play at Wayne (2-3, 0-3) Tuesday night.
Other key games this week involving Kanawha Valley schools include Tuesday's showdown at the Raleigh County Convention Center between South Charleston (6-1) and host Beckley (4-2). The matchup lost a little bit of its luster Saturday night, however, as the Flying Eagles dropped a 65-57 decision against rebuilding Parkersburg (2-7) on the road.
On Thursday, Buffalo (8-0) visits Charleston Catholic (4-1), GW plays at Huntington (5-1) and Princeton (7-1) is at Hurricane.
Contact Preps Editor Derek Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-5170. Follow him on Twitter @ItsreallyDT.