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State basketball feature

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by LemMan, Jun 15, 2006.

  1. LemMan

    LemMan Member

    Have at it, folks.

    Herald Staff Writer

    The beatings occasionally came in stereo. On one end
    of the court, Joel
    Klingenberg, Bradenton Christian's reserve forward,
    had his lanky frame pounded
    by 6-foot-10 Division I prospect Ryan Bradley. On the
    other, 6-foot-8 D.J. Magley,
    whose nickname --- Diesel --- typically doesn't befit
    someone with a tender touch,
    battered Klingenberg with an array of elbows and

    Klingenberg often left the school's cozy gym with
    purple blotches on his
    collarbones and shoulders. He also left knowing if he
    can hang with those guys, he
    can hang with anyone.

    JoJo Wood is a freshman, so the Panthers treat him
    like one. During video
    sessions, it's his job to stack and unstack chairs. Or
    if coach David Magley asks
    for a stool, Wood winds up getting him one.

    But during Tuesday's Class 1A-

    Region 3 semifinal at jam-packed Tampa Baptist, Wood
    rose from his courtside
    seat and calmly hit four of his first five 3-point


    When the Panthers, 28-1 and ranked fifth in Class 1A,
    host Oldsmar Christian
    (20-6) in a Region 3 Championship Game at 7 p.m.
    today, Klingenberg and Wood
    will be riding the bench.

    Despite the bruises and clutch play, that's just where
    the Panthers backers want
    them. Klingenberg, a senior, Wood and junior Adam
    Walker, who has been battling
    a groin injury but is expected to play this evening,
    give Bradenton Christian a
    degree of depth typically unheard of in the Class 1A
    ranks. The Panthers like to
    press and love to run, and when the opponent begins to
    peter out, Wood (29
    games) and Klingenberg (28) front a corps that helps
    keep Bradenton Christian

    Such a support system has allowed Bradenton Christian
    to craft a season that
    has included a 16-0 start, a Bay Conference
    championship and the program's first
    district title in Coach Magley's six years. It's also
    kept the starters fresh enough
    that three of them --- Kevin Yoder, Chase Cofer and
    Jeff Wehling --- are averaging
    10 to 14 points a night.

    "When (the reserves) come in, the level doesn't drop.
    It's the same," said Cofer, a
    senior guard. "When Joel comes in for D.J., he keeps
    the intensity, he keeps us
    going, gives us fresh legs. Same thing as JoJo --- he
    comes in, and we need a big
    shot, he's got fresh legs and knocks it down."

    Few have downed more 3-pointers than Wood, a guard who
    is fourth on the team
    with 19. That's a fitting place for him, considering
    he's the fourth freshman Coach
    Magley has used regularly, putting Wood in a group
    that includes Wehling, D.J.
    Magley and Bradley, the last of whom took his game to
    Wichita State.

    Wood has worked his way into such company. He does 100
    sit-ups and 100
    push-ups a night, a regimen that has helped him lose
    roughly 20 pounds, and works
    on his shot six days a week, honing his game at BCS,
    G.T. Bray or the hoop at his

    "I think JoJo's the best freshman I've had so far,"
    Magley said. "He can be the
    best shooter I've ever coached."

    Talent aside, Wood had to battle some butterflies
    early on. He spent most of last
    season on the JV team, and even though he was called
    up when the Panthers
    reached the elite eight, Wood didn't see much varsity

    Now, he's out there having fun.

    "Beginning of the year, I was a little nervous. I'm so
    used to it now, it's nothing,"
    Wood said. "I think that's a big thing, to back up
    some of the best shooters in the
    league. It feels pretty good."

    Wood often spells Cofer or Yoder, while Walker comes
    in for Wehling, and
    Klingenberg checks in when D.J. or sophomore forward
    Cole Hudson needs a rest.

    Klingenberg, who is averaging roughly four points and
    three rebounds a night, is
    probably the happiest guy in the gym when D.J. takes a
    seat. That way, he may
    have a pain-free night.

    "I've never seen a kid take more whoopings than Joel
    has taken from D.J. this
    year," David Magley said. "(D.J.) pushes, he shoves .
    . . and Joel, last year, he
    caught the ball (and) thought too much. Now, all of a
    sudden, he catches it and
    reacts, because he's used to D.J. pushing him."

    The coach has marveled in Klingenberg's progress. A
    Canadian, Klingenberg is more
    accustomed to soccer and hockey and, unlike some of
    his current teammates,
    didn't grow up pumping jump shots.

    Working with Magley and Bradley, while painful, has
    molded Klingenberg into a

    "It's great going against them, because seriously,
    they're some of the best
    players I've ever played against," he said. "When I go
    into a game, I'm ready, and I
    think it's worth all those bumps and bruises."

    Early in the season, David Magley's high school coach
    came down from Indiana and
    complimented the Panthers on their depth, adding
    rosters don't run so deep even
    in the basketball-rich Hoosier State.

    After 28 wins in 29 games, David Magley agrees.

    "I've been asked if this is my best team," he said. "I
    can't say that, but I can say
    they're my deepest team."
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