Scholastic basketball tipoff tournaments bring an abundance of excitement and anticipation. Every team looks forward to testing their mettle and seeing what the upcoming season promises. The recent 2019 Hatter’s Basketball tipoff Classic certainly bode well for the Council Rock South boys’ team.
Two years ago, the Golden Hawks posted a 3-9 season, finishing well out of the playoff picture. Last season South improved to 7-5, good enough to earn a third-place finish in the highly competitive Suburban One League National Division. Junior Jack Rebholz led the resurgence, averaging a team high 15.7 points per game.
Based on this year’s Hatters’ tournament, the Golden Hawks could be headed for a banner year. They seem to possess all the essential elements. Luke Meakim serves as team’s point guard, directing the offense and setting up the capable shooting trio of Rebholz, Mike Stewart and Luca Baratta. Steve Purcell serves as swingman who can play both wing and forward. Kevin McNamee carries the brunt of the defensive load under the boards, taking on the opposition’s big men.
In their tournament opener against Upper Darby, the Golden Hawks were without the service of last year’s leading scorer, Jack Rebholz, who suffered a severe ankle sprain two weeks ago. Though undoubtedly weakened by Rebholz’s absence, coach Chris Clark’s team showed they had plenty of firepower left.
Upper Darby, behind the hot shooting of Mo Kante and Shareef Jones, jumped out to a quick 9-0 lead. Where that might have undone the Golden Hawks in previous seasons, the 2019 version of Hawk basketball was not about to fold. With Mike Stewart and Lucca Baratta doing most of the scoring South took their first lead at 10-9 with 2:12 left in the first quarter.
Stewart, who combined deadly shooting from beyond the arc with hard drives to the basket, ended up the game’s leading scorer with 22 points. He hit on three treys including a vital shot that tied the score at 39 all with 5:18 seconds left in the game. Luca Baratta helped the Hawks keep pace, netting 8 of his 15 points in the second quarter. He hit three treys over that span.
Perhaps most crucial was the defensive play of the Hawk’s 6’ 5”center Kevin McNamee who drew the tough assignment of guarding 6’8” Onyekachi Nzeh. McNamee managed to hold the Royal’s towering sophomore to only 5 points.
The game went back and forth with Upper Darby clinging to a 46-44 lead with 30 seconds left on the clock. A Royal turnover gave South the ball with only a few seconds left on the clock. Unfortunately for Hawk followers Kevin McNamee’s hook shot with Onyekachi on his back just rolled around the basket rim before falling out.
Not allowing the 46-44 loss to dampen their spirits the Hawks roared back against the home team, Hatboro-Horsham, the following night. Undoubtedly, the reappearance of Jack Rebholz helped spark their attack as they defeated the Hatters 41-31.
Coach Clark praised Rebholz’s return, saying, “He sprained his ankle about two weeks ago and this was his first time back. I really give him a lot of credit for how hard he worked. He worked tirelessly trying to get back to play, so that was a big help having him play today.”
The Golden Hawks spread the scoring over five players. Stewart drew top scoring honors with 14 points. Rebholz followed with 11 points. Baratta netted 8, Meakim 5, and McNamee 4.
Once again McNamee drew the tough assignment of guarding the Hatter’s big man. Coach Clark valued his defensive effort along with that of his teammates. “Kevin McNamee playing post defense today on their big kid was important. I really give credit to all of our kids.”
The Golden Hawks appear to have both the defensive mindset and offensive firepower to make a real mark in the Suburban One League.