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DWS basketball teams win home openers easy

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

ALBANY -- Step out of the mud and jubilation and onto the court, swap cleats for gym shoes, end zones for bank shots, and toss shoulder pads and helmets to the side and start working on that full-court press.

Nothing to it, right?

Not for Deerfield-Windsor, where they give a whole new meaning to the word transition. This is DWS, where just about everybody is so used to football title games overlapping basketball openers it's almost become a way of life.

A very good life.

"We're getting kind of used to it,'' said DWS boys basketball coach Gordy Gruhl, whose team finally opened its season Tuesday night with a 63-28 win against Brookwood after waiting for half his players to show up from the football team that played in its third consecutive state title game last Friday.

The wait was more than worth it.

Just ask those DWS kids who danced in the mud after beating Tattnall Square, 38-22, to win the GISA Class AAA state football title.

And the basketball team?

No problem for the Knights, who are the defending Class AAA state basketball champs.

Not a bad night. The Knights, who have 11 sophomores and three seniors, won by 35 points and all 14 DWS kids played -- 11 of them scoring.

"It's not easy,'' said Banks Kinslow, the quarterback from the football team and the only starter back from last year's state championship basketball team. "You saw the way I struggled in the first half. You just have to get in the rhythm. You've got to make the transition. But there's nothing better -- nothing better than winning a state football championship.''

Kinslow went 0-for-4 in the first half, then busted a 3 to open the second half and nailed another 3 a minute later. And just like that, he was back.

So was Deerfield.

"It felt great to hit that first 3,'' he said. "I'm a shooter, and that's what I've got to do. When I hit those 3s to start the second half it got my confidence back.''

Kinslow finished with 10 points and a couple of slick assists, and Deerfield never trailed while running by the Warriors (0-1), who waited to open with DWS.

"It wouldn't have mattered if we had played them last week,'' Brookwood coach Brad Piazza said. "We could have started this game 10 years ago and it wouldn't have made a difference, not when you have (34) turnovers. You're not going to beat anyone.''

But that's Deerfield and that's Gruhl, who preaches a coast-to-coast defense that has been giving teams fits for years.

"That hasn't changed,'' Kinslow said. "It's always going to be a hard-nose defense.''

And even after a slow start from the field, DWS had no trouble taking over, forcing one turnover after another until the game was out of reach. That "hard-nose" defense was so good on opening night that Brookwood went more than eight minutes without scoring -- a drought that stretched midway through the second quarter until the 3:03 mark in the third when Jacob Dennis finally made a shot to make it a 39-15 game.

"Eight minutes? It seemed like eight years,'' Piazza said. "It seemed like we were stuck on 13 points forever.''

That's how long the DWS players felt like it took to hit the court.

"It took forever,'' said sophomore guard Romello Carter, who hit back-to-back 3s to give DWS a 6-0 lead and then finished with 16 points to lead the knights. "All the intensity just kept building up. I was anxious to get on the court and play. The football team did its job, and now we have to do ours. It was great to get out there.''

Tyrone Cuthbert, a sophomore, had a big debut, scoring nine points and grabbing nine rebounds and blocking two shots, and Sam Shellhaas and Patrick Forrestal came off the bench and scored seven each in the fourth quarter. Thurman Walker led Brookwood with eight points.

"Overall, it was a pretty good first game,'' said Gruhl, who has only five players that have had ever been in a varsity game before Tuesday. "It was pretty much what I expected. There was more good than bad. We have some things that need work, but they're things like positioning (on defense); things you can change.

"You don't play any region title games or state tournament games now. We have a lot of time to work it out.''

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DWS LADY KNIGHTS ROLL PAST BROOKWOOD:

It wasn't opening night, but Morgan Phillips and the Deerfield girls made the kind of statement that may carry them awhile, beating previously unbeaten Brookwood, 60-33, at home to improve to 3-0. Brookwood dropped to 3-1.

"This team gave us trouble last year and they brought back all five of their starters,'' DWS girls coach Ty Kinslow said after watching his team build a 32-9 halftime lead and then coast the rest of the wat. "We were excited about playing them.''

And even more excited about their future.

"Last year, it was up-and-down and back-and-forth when we played them, but this year we're wanting it a lot more than we ever wanted it,'' said Phillips, who had a big night, scoring eight points, grabbing seven rebounds and blocking five shots. "Our attitude is a lot different this year. We're more confident than we were last year.''

Three Lady Knights scored in double figures: Candace Cosby (11), Courtney Kelson (11) and Sarah Shellhaas (10), and three players had at least five steals. Miranda Phillips (six steals), Heather Lash (five steals) and Cosby (five steals) led the defense that forced 21 first half turnovers and 36 for the game.

"We base everything on our defense,'' the coach said. "We want to force 25 turnovers a game, and we did a great job of that (Tuesday night). We sort of knocked them out in the first half, and then got a little sloppy in the second half. But for the third game of the year, overall, I'm pleased.''