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From left, Taychun Hubbard, Nayieh Miller, Katrina Miller and Andrea Hammond will be key players for the Laurel girls’ basketball team this season.
From left, Taychun Hubbard, Nayieh Miller, Katrina Miller and Andrea Hammond will be key players for the Laurel girls’ basketball team this season. (staff photo by Jeff Bill)

Laurel girls basketball coach Tommy Harrison is lacking true post players, meaning the Spartans will try to get things done with speed and hustle instead.

And Harrison clearly understands that.

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"We don't have the size," said Harrison, who is in his 16th season. "We have good small size. My players have heart. Even though we are not as talented as everybody else, we give it our all. We dive on the floor. We take charges."

Harrison has decided to use his best player, last year's leading scorer and junior shooting guard Taychaun Hubbard (5-feet-7), down low during crucial times of games.

"I have to play her at power forward or small forward," Harrison said, noting the team's lack of an inside game. "She just has to learn to play down low. She has never played down there before. She needs to have patience."

But Harrison figures the transition won't be a problem for Hubbard, a three-year starter who averaged 12 points and six rebounds per game last season.

Those numbers are likely to get even better this season.

"Mount St. Mary's (University) is looking at her," the coach said of the Division I school. "A lot of Division II schools are looking at her. She is a versatile player and has a great knowledge of the game. Where ever she gets the ball, she is very dangerous."

Senior point guard and four-year starter Nayieh Miller (5-4) will be feeding the ball plenty of times to Hubbard.

Miller is a solid offensive player and a tenacious defender who averaged six steals and five assists last year.

"If she plays at the next level, it's going to be because of her defense," Harrison said.

But Harrison values Miller for her leadership qualities above all else.

"She has really learned how to run a team," Harrison said. "She has had to give up scoring to run a team because I need someone with that attitude. When my assistant coach is not here, I ask Nayieh to run the drills. She really knows all the plays so I can do that with her."

Sophomore combo guard Sydney Woodlands (5-4) is another scoring option.

Woodlands can drive to the hoop and draw fouls and also hit the perimeter.

Harrison put her in the starting lineup late last season after promoting her from the JV, where she averaged 20 points per game.

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She totaled 21 points and five assists in a season-opening loss to Largo on Dec. 7.

"She is a very good shooter and I call her 'Vision' because of her passes and her thought process on the court," Harrison said. "She can pass, shoot and dribble. She can do it all."

Senior combo guard Andrea Hammond (5-4), Miller's cousin Katrina Miller (5-6) and junior center Sydne Jones (5-10), who was elevated from last year's JV, should complement Laurel's top players well.

Forward Paige Taylor (5-8), senior forward Hilary Yau, senior forward Keyonna Biggs (5-8) and sophomore guard Tamia Hull (5-6) provide excellent depth.

"Defensively, we are quick and strong and I am teaching them how to make that extra pass," Harrison said. "We have a lot of assists near the basket and I like that. We are thinking of team ball and not just scoring."

Laurel assistant girls basketball coach Michael Hines believes the Spartans have the perfect attitude to help them improve on last year's 11-13 record.

"I think this team will be more coachable because they don't feel they have as much skill," he said. "Now, they are willing to learn, so they do everything you tell them."

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