Coach Jim Rutledge's Damascus squad is improving by leaps & bounds

When the Damascus junior high boys basketball team tipped off its game with Honesdale last week, the Demons were looking for a fast start.

That initial mission was accomplished when Anthony DeGori dialed up a long-distance trey which gave the visitors a quick 3-0 advantage.

Sadly for Coach Jim Rutledge's squad, the Red & Black wasted no time in retaliating. Thanks to a pair of buckets by Noah Pender, Honesdale surged ahead and never looked back.

When the final buzzer sounded on this one, the Demons had finished up on the short end of a 25-12 final score.

"I'm always pleased with the effort I get from them," Coach Jim Rutledge said. "This is a great group of kids. They work hard in practice and they're getting better every day."

With the loss, Damascus saw its record fall to 2-5 on the year. If Mother Nature deigns to cooperate, the Demons will be back on the floor Thursday afternoon against Eldred (NY).

That contest is slated for a 4 p.m. start.

Positive Signs

Although they struggled offensively at Honesdale, the Demons are capable of putting up big points.

Damascus already owns a pair of wins this season, having dispatched Hancock (38-28) and Sullivan West (30-19).

"We played very well in those two games," Coach Rutledge said. "I'm proud of how far the kids have come since our first practice. This team's made tremendous strides in just a few weeks."

DeGori accounted for half of his team's 12 points at Honesdale, but was even better in the victory over Hancock. Anthony rattled the rims for a game-high 20 in that one, including a 4-for-4 stint at the stripe.

"Even though he's just a 7th grader, Anthony knows the game better than just about anyone out there," said Coach Rutledge. "He handles the ball well and he's a very good shooter."

DeGori has received solid support from several of his teammates throughout the young season.

At the top of that list is Beau Freiermuth.

A multi-sport star who also excels on the baseball field, Freiermuth is in just his first year of organized basketball.

When DeGori went down with an injury at Sullivan West, Freiermth stepped up and rallied Damascus to victory by pouring in a team-best 10 points.

"Beau is really coming along as a player," Coach Rutledge said. "He's pretty raw, but he's improving by leaps and bounds."

The Big Three

Damascus is paced by its "Big Three" in the paint.

Max Kraft, Jared Smith and Travis Rutledge form an intimidating presence in the low post for Damascus.

"Those three guys are our team leaders," said Coach Rutledge. "They rebound well, play good defense and set great examples for the younger kids."

Rutledge cleaned the glass against Honesdale, hauling down six rebounds and getting to the foul line repeatedly.

"Travis is really scrappy," Coach Rutledge said. "He's always doing everything he can to help us win. Travis hustles his butt off every day, whether it be in a game or at practice."

Kraft is the Demons' leading rebounder overvall and Smith plays well at both ends of the floor. Max and Jared each contributed a basket during a fourth quarter in which Damascus outscored Honesdale 8-6.

BJ Holloway rounded out the local lads attack in this one with one free throw.

Over & Out

The Demons are entering perhaps the busiest portion of their 2012-13 schedule.

Over the course of an 8-day span, Damascus will play four games (two on the road and two at home).

"We haven't had as much gym time early in the year as maybe we should have," Coach Rutledge said. But, we're going to be making up for that here in the next week or so. It should be an exciting time for the boys."

Score by Quarters...

DAM (3-5) 3 1 0 8 – 12

HON (5-1) 5 8 6 6 – 25