Before the first jump ball of the 1990-91 high school basketball season, there was controversy.
* In the Maryland Scholastic Association:
Former Lake Clifton coach Woody Williams, who became athletic director at Mervo this fall, replaced John Blake as basketball coach, but, within two weeks, Blake had filed a grievance and gotten his jobback.
Two former Southwestern players have been unable to get waivers from the school to play at their new schools. Eddie Rivers, a 6-foot-3 senior guard, is hoping to play at Edmondson, and Shamar Bass, a 6-2 junior guard, wants to play at Walbrook. The waivers are needed for the players to be eligible this year under the MSA transfer rule.
According to MSA second vice president Jerry Savage, both appeals will be heard tomorrow by the MSA executive committee.
* In the Catholic League:
Towson Catholic coach Mike Daniels can't use his best player, Dana Marshall, in Catholic League play, because Marshall is ineligible under Catholic League rules, although he is eligible under MSA rules.
Catholic League rules stipulate that a player has eight consecutive semesters to complete his eligibility once he reaches theninth grade. Marshall spent a year at Cardinal Gibbons, a year at Southwestern and is in his third year at Towson Catholic. Marshall appealed to the Catholic League executive committee, but was turned down.
* In Anne Arundel County:
There has been some grumbling among county coaches about Boris Beck, Broadneck's 7-foot-2 senior exchange student.
"We're going to this offense [run and gun], because we couldn't get the player we wanted from Japan," Severna Park coach Wayne Mook said with a grin.
Broadneck coach Ken Kazmarek said he can't understand the controversy.
"Right now, he's not that big of a factor," said Kazmarek. "He needs a lot of work on skills."
There is no controversy concerning the area's top team.
With four players considered among the country's best and almost everyone back from last season's 22-4 team that finished ranked No. 2, Dunbar is The Sun's preseason No. 1.
The Poets return starters Terrance Alexander, a 6-3 senior guard; Michael Lloyd, a 6-2 junior guard; Donta Bright, a 6-6 junior forward; and Kevin Washington, a 6-4 senior forward. Add to the starting lineup sophomore Phil Booth, a 6-4 sophomore forward who is an offensive force and was the first player off the bench last season, and it's easy to see why The Associated Press poll selected the Poets No. 12 in the preseason national top 25 and Street & Smith's picked the Poets No. 12 in its preseason national top 25.
But don't expect the Poets to be admiring their accolades.
"If we don't play as a team and forget our press clippings, we're not going to be that good," said Dunbar coach Pete Pompey. "We're not that big, but we are quick. We've got to beat people with execution."
Dunbar's stiffest challenge for the area's No. 1 ranking will come from last year's No. 1 team, Southern, which is No. 2 in the preseason poll. The Bulldogs, who beat Dunbar in the Metro Classic for the MSA A Conference title last March, lost three starters from a 21-3 team, but they are loaded again.
"We will rely a lot on our younger kids, but we definitely have the talent and the ability," said Southern coach Meredith Smith. "But, at the same time, you can't tell about experience. If we play as BTC mature as we have looked in scrimmages, we'll be right there in the thick of things."
David Cason, 5-10 senior guard, and John Salley, 6-7 senior forward, are the starters returning for Southern. Che Eavns, a 6-4 senior forward, Abdul Brown, a 6-8 sophomore center, Kwame Evans, a 6-6 junior guard, gave the Bulldogs strong play inside off the bench last year. Derrick Watkins, a 6-5 junior forward, may be the team's most explosive player. Freshman Damon Cason, a 6-0 guard -- David's brother -- and Kevin Simpson, a 6-4 guard, have performed like veterans during the pre-season.
Dunbar and Southern could have their first showdown as early as this weekend, when the two participate in the James Kenner Tip-Off Tournament at Georgetown University with two of Washington's top teams.
At No. 3 is Annapolis, the defending state Class 4A champion.
"We're a little bigger and have experience in different positions, but, overall, we have as much talent as last year," said coach John Brady, who will stick with the run-and-gun style this season. "If we maintain the tempo and the pace we want, it should be another pretty good year."
St. Frances, which came on to finish 20-9 and win the Catholic League title last season, is No. 4. St. Frances has the area's most sought-after player, 6-6 center Devin Gray.
Although Williams did not last long at Mervo, one veteran coach did return this year. Chuck Monninger, who won a state title at Mount Hebron in 1984 and stepped down after the 1987 season when his team lost in the state final, has returned to Mount Hebron.
Two of the area's top players have returned after serious illnesses threatened to keep them off the court this season.