Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2008

Good Counsel boys hoops on fast track

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When Mike Hibbs took over the Good Counsel boys basketball team three seasons ago, he hoped to turn the once­proud program around by year No. 5. That timetable appears to be on a much faster track.

Since opening the season with a tough loss to undefeated Gonzaga (¹4­0), the Falcons, through Sunday, had won ¹2 of ¹3 games — the only loss came Friday night against McNamara (¹0­4).

In between, Good Counsel won ¹2 straight games, including three consecutive tournaments, the latest being at the Merv Lopes Tournament in Hawaii. It also defeated DeMatha, 52­47, prior to Christmas and upended St. John’s, 55­45, last Wednesday to run its record to ¹2­2 overall and 2­2 in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference.

‘‘If anybody told me we’d be ¹2­2 after ¹4 games, I definitely would have said they needed to go see a psychologist because of our youth,” Hibbs said. ‘‘I didn’t know how we were going to play.”

At the Merv Lopes Tournament, the Falcons recorded wins against Kahuka, Thousand Oaks (Calif.), Kalaneo and Punahou, respectively, behind the play of senior forward Jordan Clarke and junior guard Recardo Gaddy. Clarke won Most Valuable Player honors for the third straight tournament, while Gaddy made the all­tournament team.

‘‘We played really well, especially given we traveled so far,” Hibbs said. ‘‘In the championship game, we were definitely a little weary. We were down eight at halftime but Jordan scored ¹6 points in the second half and we ended up winning by six. [Punahou] is ranked No. ¹ in that area.

‘‘I thought we defended really well and that really helped us get out on our fastbreak. We scored pretty well that whole tournament. It was great the fact that we went that far and represented our league and our school and to be able to do as well as we did.”

Clarke came up big again in the team’s ¹0­point win over St. John’s, producing ¹8 points and 20 rebounds Gaddy and sophomore point guard Louis Young added ¹2 and ¹¹ points, respectively.

Illness dampened Clarke’s production in the loss to McNamara as he managed just ¹2 points and five rebounds. That lack of output plus a rough second quarter — the Mustangs outscored Good Counsel, 2¹­8 — proved to be too much for the Falcons, who did climb within two points late in the game.

‘‘Jordan usually gives us 24 [points] and ¹5 [rebounds] each game,” Hibbs said. ‘‘That hurt us.”

Good Counsel, which was led by sophomore guard Ben Hazel’s ¹8 points in the loss, was to play three games this week, including Carroll (7­4, 3­2 WCAC) Saturday at noon.