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Peele stands tall for Panthers

Northside’s 6-5, 240-pound center Tony Peele (left) averaged 27.8 points and 15 rebounds per game for the Panthers and was named the Washington Daily News Boys Basketball Player of the Year. (WDN Photo/Brian Haines)

YEATESVILLE — In a year where there were several great individual performers, Northside’s 6-5, 240-pound center Tony Peele stood above the rest.
Equipped with speed and brute strength, Peele was able to power the Panthers by posting 27.8 points and 15 rebounds per game. That kind of production is hard to ignore, which is why Peele was perfect choice for the Washington Daily News Boys’ Basketball Player of the Year.
It was a season of ups and downs for the 13-12 Panthers, but Peele was consistently awesome as evident by his 51-point performance against Perquimans and his 30-point, 14-rebound affair against Riverside. It was nights like those made him an overwhelming choice for Four Rivers Conference Player of the Year and the centerpiece of the Northside offense.
“We had to go through Tony offensively because we had a hard time scoring and we asked him to score a lot of points,” Northside coach Mike Procter said. “That can be tough on somebody, especially when other teams start keying on him. But, he was a leader and a very good offensive player and rebounder.”
Thanks to a short-range jumper that’s a smooth as Bill Clinton, Peele has always been able to put up a plethora of points, but the leadership, that’s something that had to be developed over time.
Last season as a junior, Peele was in the midst of another stellar season before it had to be cut short because the big man’s GPA got too low. The blow was a tough one to take for Peele, Procter and the rest of the Panthers. Instead of sulking, Peele rose to the challenge the same way he soars for Spaldings that glance off the rim.
“This season was good, but I had to work hard for it. I had to be a leader on the team and start listening more than I did in the past,” Peele said. “I couldn’t play around anymore. I knew if I wanted to play basketball I had to work hard in school.”
As he spoke, Peele’s words brought a Shaquille O’Neal-sized smile to his mother Duvesha’s face as well as his coach, who confirmed his senior center’s growth in maturity.
“Tony got a little slacked with the books last year and this year he was determined,” Procter said. “He was determined to be able to play and be a leader of this team.”
Peele is hoping he can lead a team in the future as he is in the process of trying out for several area junior colleges.
Though he played center in high school, Procter said Peele projects as an ideal power forward on the college level.
“I think he’s an ideal four because he’s big and he’s long and he rebounds real well,” Procter said. “He’s a very good offensive player. He can score facing the basket but he is probably better with his back to the basket. He’s strong. He get’s hit a lot and he doesn’t complain, he just goes to the line and makes his foul shots.”