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January 29, 2013

In The Paint: Beverly's Cross a valuable reserve

In the Paint

Matt Jenkins

Lineup controversies are often a sign of dysfunction. In many cases, a bench player pushes for a starting position because the starter is under-performing.

Those are the scenarios that drive coaches insane.

The problem Beverly’s Scott Lewis faces is the complete opposite: his starting five is performing just fine, but his sixth man, junior forward Nick Cross, is producing at a highly efficient rate.

Lewis is almost coaching with a pinch of guilt. How can he keep bringing a player that leads the team in scoring (13.6 per game) and blocks (21) off the bench? Then again, why would he change anything now after the Panthers have already locked up a Division 2 North playoff berth with a 10-3 record?

“We’re in and out with him and he’s been playing really well. I didn’t want to jinx it, and it’s nice to have that spark (off the bench) if you’re struggling,” Lewis said. “He’s that spark of energy right away. He’s really accepted (his role) well. A lot of kids would say, ‘Hey, I should be starting.’”

The versatility Cross brings to the court also makes Lewis’ decision a little bit easier.

Cross is 6-foot-2 with long arms and athleticism. He handles the ball well for his size, can score in the post, and has three-point range. In other words, he can enter the lineup in place of any of the Panthers’ five starters.

“He’s a really good free throw shooter. He collects points that way and he knocks down the three,” Lewis said. “If teams put a guard on him (defensively) he can go on the block, and if they put a bigger guy on him he can go outside. It’s a nice matchup problem for us.”

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