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Flash not part of the Vikings’ formula

Laney's Ty Balcombe (3) tries to block Hoggard's Austin Louthan (15) at Hoggard High School on Jan. 6, 2012. StarNews file photo

When asked how to describe his team’s run to the top of the Mideastern Conference, Hoggard boys basketball coach Brett Queen is clear.

“Our best players have been very consistent and we know what we’re going to get,” Queen said. “Our role players have been very consistent. It’s been a very consistent group of people.”

The steady effort has been more than enough for Hoggard (14-6, 8-0). The Vikings started the season 1-3 with losses to Broughton, Jacksonville and Millbrook. Things didn’t look promising, but Queen said his players didn’t panic.

“When you’ve got a bunch of seniors and guys who are experienced, that helps them to stay level throughout the process,” Queen said. “You can’t ever get too high and you can’t ever get too low. Our guys have been the same when we were 1-3 and had lost a few close games to where we are right now.”

The Hoggard roster has nine seniors, and Queen said that’s been crucial in continuing to win games. Senior guard Christian Poveromo agreed.

“A lot of us have played together since middle school,” Poveromo said. “A lot of us know on the court what each other are thinking. When we were 1-3 and struggling we knew it was just a matter of time before we could right the ship.”

That level-headedness has manifested itself since Christmas: Hoggard has won five straight games and nine of its last 10. Few of the wins are blowouts – Hoggard’s only had four games decided by 20 or more points this season – but the Vikings continue to find ways to win.

They got just enough to beat Ashley on the road. They beat rival New Hanover by 22 and turned a two-point game with Laney into a double-digit win in the fourth quarter. On Friday, Hoggard toppled Rose in Greenville.

The two-hour road trip to Rose has been a stumbling block for other teams this year – Ashley and Laney have both dropped games there. Hoggard won in overtime.

Austin Louthan, who scored 17 points in the win against Rose, said he’s fine with the Vikings’ preferred method of winning.

“Going undefeated would be awesome regardless of how we do it,” Louthan said. “It’d be a lot easier if we were blowing people out. But obviously that would be something great.”

And with games against Ashley and New Hanover this week to end the regular season, Louthan said the Vikings aren’t done grinding yet.

“You’ve got to be 9-0 before you can be 10-0,” Louthan said. “So we’ve got to take care of Ashley Tuesday night first.”

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