2009-2010 record: 17-6 (2A South Regional semifinalists)

League: Howard County

Coach: Karl Friedheim

Returning starters: Dave Patrick, Sr., Point forward; Matt Stephenson, Sr., Forward; Tristen Baboolal, Sr., Forward.

Returning letter winners: Vic Azmanio, Sr., Forward; Ife Bello, Sr., Guard

Outlook:  Last season didn’t start off the way that Hammond head coach Karl Friedheim would have liked but by the end, the Golden Bears righted the ship to win the Howard County title for the first time since 1993.

The team started out 0-3, including two losses to league competition but turned its season around with a 14-game winning streak.  When it was all said-and-done, Hammond finished with a 14-3 league mark and reached the Class 2A South Regional semifinals.

This season, The Golden Bears will have to replace reigning Howard County Player of the Year Brandon Bjerre (16.4 ppg) and two-year starter Avery Terry to graduation but return three players with starting experience.  Two years ago, Hammond’s Chris Baker was the top player in the County.

“We’re happy that the program has had success and those players have done what they have for the program by accomplishing everything that they did,” Friedheim said referring to the past two league players of the year. “This year is really about these guys continuing the tradition and the legacy that those other guys set them up for…It’s addition by subtraction, the younger guys have the chance to step into the roles.”

Dave Patrick, Matt Stephenson and Tristen Baboolal all made starts at times last year. Friedheim will lean on them and other returners, Ife Bello and Vic Azmanio, to help newcomers like Dwayne Echlos, Xavier Lloyd and Demetrius Powell find their way.

Hammond’s program prides itself on hard work and although its early, Friedheim sees his team already putting in the extra effort to remain atop the league.

“Overall, we have a good group of guys who have committed to working hard every day,” said Friedheim. “We emphasize discipline and hard work. We’ve got a lot of guys who have been through the program before and know what the expectations are.”

He added: “We’re looking for everyone to contribute and every time we step on the floor in practice, it’s a competition.  We’re pushing each other and working hard on a daily basis.”