Prep of the week: Regents' Hall finds will and a way
Jan 24, 2013 (Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
WATERLOO, Iowa -- Last week, Danny Hall put together the type of career game that many prep basketball players standing a foot taller would love to reach.
The Waterloo Christian senior hit 13 of 20 shots from the field and added four free throws, scoring 30 points to lead his team to a thrilling overtime victory that snapped Meskwaki Settlement School's five-game win streak.
Standing 5-foot-9, Hall is an undersized post player making the most of his first season as a regular varsity contributor. What can't be measured is the size of his heart.
"He plays much bigger than 5-9," Waterloo Christian head coach Dave Liverance said.
"He plays post for us just because he does such a great job of keeping moving and uses his body extremely well."
"We can always count on him to be there," junior teammate Levi Smith added. "He works his tail off. We'll put him up against bigger guys and he'll outwork them every time."
Learning the game from older brothers, Austin (26) and Tom (22), Hall grew up competing against mismatches. He says he's played against taller opponents his entire career.
"You've just got to understand even though they're taller than you, you don't need to be afraid," Hall said.
"You've got to be physical. Go up for the basket hard -- hit 'em hard -- and then put it up. If they try to block it, you'll get fouled even if you're shorter than them. Be as strong as you can."
Height isn't the only type of adversity Hall has overcome.
He was born deaf and underwent surgery that equipped him a cochlear implant when he was 30 months old.
Hall can hear through the device that includes internal implants and an external microphone, sound processor and transmitter system. The external components resemble a behind-the-ear hearing aid attached to a small magnet piece that sits on his head.
"In louder environments it can be harder to hear, but other than that I get along great," said Hall. "It's kind of hard to hear the other players be like, 'Hey Danny' so I have to use my eyes a lot in the game to make passes. I have to pay attention closely to get the calls for plays."
Hall has become an accurate lip reader and a fluid communicator, with basketball helping to challenge him in both of those departments.
"I like the speed and teamwork you have to have to play the sport," Hall said.
While he admits it was initially difficult adjusting to teammates, Hall has been surrounded by several familiar faces since middle school. He is just another one of guys.
"All the guys, we're real tight," Smith said. "We don't let anything get in the way."
Liverance is also quick to point out the type of camaraderie that exists within his basketball team.
"Because we're such a small school, it is a family atmosphere, no doubt about it," the Regents' coach said. "These kids have grown up playing together. They have that sixth sense about them of just knowing where each other is going to be."
Hall entered this season with a goal of averaging 10 points a game. He never envisioned finishing a night with 30.
"I wasn't expecting that," said Hall, who now averages a team-best 12.1 points on 55.3 percent shooting. "I had an awesome beginning to the game so I was like, I might as well keep shooting. ... I just kept playing my hardest."
"It couldn't have happened to a better kid," added Smith, who has put up 11.1 points per game. "Every time we gave it to him, it seemed like he'd put it in the bucket. ... As a team we played well, and it was just a fun game."
While Waterloo Christian entered this week with a 3-12 record, the Regents have shown progress. Following the win over Meskwaki, Waterloo Christian had a third-quarter lead and hung with a Colo-NESCO team that had defeated them by 35 points earlier in the season.
The Regents have played shorthanded throughout much of the year, and Liverance hopes to have his entire lineup back in time for the playoffs.
With players like Hall, Liverance's first season as the school's head coach has still been a smooth transition.
"A kid like him makes it a real easy adjustment for a new coach, because of the character he brings" Liverance said.
After completing high school, Hall is considering participating in an internship program to become an electrician. His final season of basketball is already one he'll never forget.
"It's been my favorite year," Hall said. "I don't want it to end."
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