Young Hampton players are talented
Heading into every season, a coach, a team and the fan base faces the usual questions.
How far can we go? How good can we be? We will be OK, if somebody gets hurt …
Some things can be controlled, like work ethic, extra effort outside practice and extra film study. Some things can not, like graduation, injuries and bumping up in classification.
The Hampton basketball program played in Class AAA for the past several seasons, and during the past four-year stretch the team made the WPIAL finals three times, winning one. Hampton (and New Castle) made the jump to Class AAAA, but that put the Talbots in what many believe to be the best section in Class AAAA basketball.
Hampton also lost starting center Mark Pilarski to graduation. So, the question became could the Talbots sustain against the big boys a level of success they were used to?
The answer came in the form of a talented underclass staggered in such a way the Talbots will have things under control for years to come.
The frontcourt is no surprise: Ryan and Collin Luther are extraordinary talents and threats to score from anywhere on the floor. The Luther twins are juniors and only getting better.
Two talented forwards who can score will win a lot of games, but I think what gives Hampton an edge is the guard tandem of David Huber and Joey Lafko.
Huber is 6-foot-2, and Lafko a more compact 5-10. Distinctly different players with a knack for running the offense, and each could carry the backcourt on his own. But I think what makes them one of the best tandems out there is that they don't have to do it alone. Both are physical, smart and can score. In a win against a very athletic Pine-Richland team, the sophomore guards combined for 26 points. But where they really helped was getting after loose balls, creating turnovers and finding the Luthers for open shots.
Don't get me wrong, Hampton is far from a four-man gang. The team's depth also allows for some timely breathers for the starters, and there are a lot of players on this team who do the real dirty work when they get a chance. Players like Tommy Radzminski, Jon Floss, Jack Obringer, Jake Adams and Rich Ford, among others, play valuable minutes while keeping up the Talbots' flow of the game.
The season is only half over, but if the first half is any indication of things to come, the new kids in Class AAAA could bust that bracket coming up here in a few weeks.
Jerry Clark is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.