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P.O. Male Athlete of the Week: Ryan Hege

Patience has been a virtue for the James Buchanan boys basketball team.

The Rockets have been slowly building toward having a good season for several years and this year, with seven seniors on the roster, that time appears to be now. JB has won four of its last five games to raise its record to 9-4 and one of the biggest reasons why is senior center Ryan Hege.

Hege, the P.O. Male Athlete of the Week, is the catalyst for James Buchanan. In fact, the team's only loss during this recent streak was the game Hege missed because of an illness.

In three games last week - all wins - Hege scored nine, 10 and 19 points, and he's averaging 12.3 points per game. He was also a rebounding machine, taking down 18, 14 and 13 to bring his average to 13 boards per game.

With his lineage, that shouldn't be surprising. Hege has a similar physique (6-foot-5, 245 pounds) as his father, Craig, and Craig put up 15.5 points and 18 rebounds per game in his junior season (he was 6-3, 210) for the Rockets in 1972-73.

"He taught me a lot," Ryan said."I need to use my size to take advantage in the post and try to dominate in rebounding."

Hege has played on the JB varsity since he was a freshman, and he and his classmates are having their best season now.

James Buchanan coach Larry Strawoet said, "There is more maturity now, and Ryan has become a leader both on and off the court. Bigs can take a little longer to develop, and this year he has taken a giant leap. He's a big reason for our success."

One thing that has clicked for the Rockets is that Hege, who has always drawn a lot of attention from defenses, has become better at finding teammates once he gets possession.

"I feel I'm playing more controlled," Hege said. "I used to get the ball and put my head down and go to the basket. Now I try to keep my head up and look for someone else to be open. We still want to play inside out, but we can do other things because the defense has more than one guy to watch out for."

Strawoet said, "He's become a very unselfish player. We need to go to him, but he will look for other players. He understands now what he needs to do to be a better basketball player, and he only cares about one thing - and that's the team's record."

And that's one reason why the Rockets' record is heading up.

Ryan Hege, James Buchanan

Sport: Basketball

Grade: Senior

Size: 6-foot-5, 245 pounds

Interests: He likes to fish.

Favorite team: West Virginia men's basketball

Favorite player: LeBron James

Statistics: Hege helped the Rockets to a 3-0 week, starting with 9 points and 18 rebounds against Northern ... Against Boiling Springs, Hege had 10 points and 14 boards ... In a win over Fannett-Metal, Hege had a season high 19 points and added 13 rebounds.