OXFORD — This could turn out to be a very special year for Webb’s basketball program if Warriors star Isaiah Hicks has his way.
And if the Carolina 6 3-A conference opener against Cardinal Gibbons – a 77-50 knockout – is any sign of things to come, it’s going to take quite an effort from some other 3-A team to derail the talented Warriors, coached by Leo Brunelli.
With the unselfish 6-9 Hicks, a prized recruit for North Carolina, leading the way, Webb is going to force the tempo at every opportunity. That’s what Gribbons got caught up in Friday night.
“Hicks is really good, but they’ve got more than him,” Crusaders coach Marque Carrington said. “They run and trap, force the the tempo and forced us into a lot of turnovers. Even when we set up, too often we took their bait and took the first shot. Then if you miss, they rebound and get running. We’ve got to find a way to slow things down against them.”
Stefan Cates, a 6-1 junior guard, is one of four underclassmen to join Hicks in the lineup. He hit three early 3-pointers as the hosts jumped ahead 18-9. By halftime, the lead was 38-23. The Warriors (11-3, 1-0) upped the lead to 60-35 entering the final period and led by as many as 34 .
Patrick Domville, a shooter who is playing point with loss of Shawn Stankavage to a football injury, led the Crusaders with 14. Austin Burnette, a 6-5 sophomore, scored 10, as did Justin Reed. Gibbons is 0-1 in the league and 8-7 overall.
Hicks led the winners with 24 points, followed by Cates and junior Tyrek Beverly with 15 each. Mitron Terry, another junior guard, added 13.
“That balanced scoring is what we want,” Brunelli said. “We were able to play the game we wanted tonight. We were able to force the tempo. And that’s going to be a key, because other teams in our conference are going to want to play slower.”
Brenelli also pointed to the team’s cohesiveness.
“I tell you, Isaiah passed up opportunities to play other places this summer and gain a lot of personal exposure,” Brunelli. “But these guys enjoy playing together and they’ve played together a lot now, and he talks about winning a state championship here. When people talk about him, he’s quick to say how good the other players are on the team. That’s just the way he is, almost too unselfish. But I wouldn’t change a thing about him. This is a great situation.”