JF Webb boys' basketball team adjusts to being the target

mblake@newsobserver.comJanuary 14, 2014 

— The first time J.F. Webb boys basketball coach Leo Brunelli stepped into a gym for scrimmages this summer, he could tell the difference. More eyes were on him and his reigning 3A state champion Warriors.

The Warriors found out then that they’ll get everyone’s best shot now that they have a state title. There is no letting up just because Webb doesn’t have McDonald’s All-American Isaiah Hicks, who is now a freshman at the University of North Carolina.

Hicks had 34 points and 30 rebounds in last year’s 3A state championship game and he has been missed.

The Warriors (7-8 overall, 2-3 in the Big Eight 3A) won five of their first seven games this season, but lost five straight in December.

“I think the expectations were big coming back. No excuses, our record is not what it could be. But what could go wrong has gone wrong,” Brunelli said.

Friday’s 70-57 win against Cardinal Gibbons was the second time this year when Brunelli had his team healthy, exempting Devonte Williams, an all-conference player last year who broke his thumb.

Webb has won two of its last three games entering Friday’s game at conference-leading Orange.

“We’ve been derailed by injuries and we had a lot of sickness at one point. Everybody got sick within a week or two, and that was like four or five people,” said senior Tyrek Beverly. “But I think we’re back on track.”

Webb may not be playing in front of standing-room only gyms that seem to fit the entire town of Oxford inside, but the team hope that too can turn around as the season progresses.

“This community is phenomenal. And I think once we get this going that gym is going to be rocking again,” Brunelli said.

Blake: 919-460-2606; Twitter: @JMBpreps

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