Athlete of the week: Last name Reigel? Then you must play basketball
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Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012

Athlete of the week: Last name Reigel? Then you must play basketball

Rusty Reigel's family has a tradition of basketball excellence.

His grandfather, Bill Reigel, played for Duke and McNeese State in the early 1950s.

His father, Ernie was a four-year letterman for Davidson College from 1976-80.

His older brother, Will, is currently a senior reserve guard at Davidson and has had a solid four-year career for coach Bob McKillop after being all-conference and all-state at Latin from 2005-08.

Now Rusty, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound sophomore, is already a standout guard for Charlotte Latin.

Reigel, who made the varsity team and started every game as a freshman, is averaging 10 points, seven rebounds and two assists for a young but talented Latin team expected to challenge for the CISAA conference title.

"Obviously, I know all about my family's history, but for the most part I haven't thought about it as pressure," Rusty Reigel said. "I've always looked up to my brother and father and learned from them. But I've also tried to be my own player."

Reigel's coach at Latin, Chris Berger, who played basketball at Latin and Queens University of Charlotte, knows all about family tradition. His father, Andrew Berger, played basketball at Fordham University, while his brothers, Andy and John, played college golf at Belmont Abbey and UNC Greensboro, respectively.

"I know it can be tough to be the younger kid brother because I've been there," said Berger, who is in his third year as head coach after serving 14 years as a Latin assistant. "But I think you can also learn a lot and benefit from the experiences. I think (Rusty's family tradition) has been a driving point for him."

Latin struggled last year, going 8-17 overall and 0-8 in conference play with two freshmen, Reigel and point guard Joe Baynard, and one sophomore, Adam Herrmann, starting for the Hawks.

"Our freshman year definitely didn't turn out the way we wanted it to," Reigel said. "But we learned a lot and we are building on all of those things this year."

Berger says Baynard and Reigel were among a "select company of freshmen" who have played key roles for Latin's varsity in the last 25 years, including Anthony Morrow, who went onto star at Georgia Tech and is now a key player for the New Jersey Nets..

Latin (10-7, 1-1 in CISAA through Jan. 19) is looking to challenge perennial power, Charlotte Christian for the league title and help restore the Latin basketball tradition.

"Latin had always had a great basketball tradition and it really hasn't gone anywhere," Reigel said. "But we see all the banners for conference and state titles in the rafters and we want to be a part of that success."

Reigel, who can play four positions for Latin including his usual small forward, has had big games this year with 22 points, 10 rebounds and three assists in a win over Marvin Ridge.

Reigel's most meaningful game to date came in the conference opener last week against Providence Day, when he scored a season-high 23 points to lead the Hawks to their first conference win since the 2009-10 season. Latin had lost to Chargers by a combined total of 57 points last year.

Reigel hopes to continue his family tradition of being a Division I basketball player.

Reigel says while he would love to play for McKillop at Davidson, he just wants to play basketball somewhere while getting a good education.

He knows exactly how to get there.

"My brother taught me just about everything about basketball," said Rusty, who regularly works out with his brother and the Davidson team in the offseason. "But the most important thing is always to work your hardest and don't worry about what other people think about your game. You've got to believe in yourself, first."

Jay Edwards is a freelance writer for South Charlotte News. Have a story idea for Jay? Email him at jedwardsjr23@gmail.com.

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