In two short years, coach Mark Amatucci has brought his Anne Arundel Community College men's basketball team a long way.
This week, he learned that his Pioneers are being noticed nationally as he got word that his guys have been ranked No. 7 in the nation for Division II Junior Colleges.
Amatucci's gang humbled Montgomery Community College-Rockville, 131-108, Saturday at the loser's court. The victory ran AACC's record to 7-0 in the JuCo League and 9-3 overall.
"I don't know how they exactly come up with the rankings, but we're in there," said Amatucci, who is working on his second straight 20-win season.
The national ranking is certainly great for the Pioneers program, and the area as well, in that most of Amatucci's players are county high school products.
* Today is a big day for youth and recreation teams as they await the word on whether they will be allowed to continue playing weekend sports in our schools.
The Board of Education is expected to decide on whether to eliminate custodian overtime and thereby knock out Saturdays and Sundays, which are the game days for most youth leagues. The custodians carry the keys to the county schools and nothing that is not school related happens without them.
The board announced the cutback in the face of an $8-million budget deficit and views the move as an opportunity to save $600,000. However, it appears that the board will have a tough time explaining how they can save that money when $1 million was appropriated to pay the custodians.
In essence, it's not really their money to save and former county councilman Theodore J. Sophocleus, said, "I don't see how the board can take that money and I intend to testify on that Monday night in front of the board.
If the board's proposal flies, the lockout would begin this weekend.
With Monday through Friday as the only evenings available for youth and recreation teams, it's unlikely that the leagues could function this winter.
And knowing now that the custodian fees have been paid in advance, there is no way the board can expect youth groups to pay for custodians and gym space.
"I don't see how they can stop the programs now when they've already started playing," Sophocleus said.
The Anne Arundel Gridiron Club Rebels have joined many organizations around the county in a letter-writing campaign to protest the budget cut.
"We're not only writing letters but we've also drawn up a petition to stop this," said Rebels president John Stumpf. "We just can't let this happen to our kids. I hope the board realizes that sports parents are pretty serious about their kids and we won't go away."
Ron Beckett, assistant superintendent in charge of school services, said the board expected to get a lot of negative feedback when they announced the proposal.
Let's hope good news comes out of tonight's board meeting.
* Moving to the high school sports scene, where things for now are more pleasant, hasn't Delmore Howard of Annapolis rather quietly put up some very impressive numbers in the shadow of the prolific Dennis Edwards?
Howard, a 6-foot-6 senior guard, is averaging 23.5 points per game for John Brady's 4-0 Fighting Panthers. He has had games of 25, 28, 18 and a game-high 23 points in Friday night's 87-65 romp at Severna Park.
With Edwards missing Friday night because "he was Christmas shopping," Annapolis rolled without the county's leading scorer. The 6-foot-5 Edwards is pouring in 35 points a game, while Howard has been equally effective in his role.
"Delmore can play Division I and he's qualified academically," said Brady.
"He's really done a great job for us so far."
Howard has at least a 2.0 GPA and met the ACT requirements per NCAA Division I requirements.
Brady is starting to get phone calls from college coaches about Howard and expects things to step up for the young man whose pleasant demeanor is another asset.
Howard and the Fighting Panthers visit St. Mary's (1-4) at 7 tonight.
Let's just hope Annapolis doesn't burn up the floor and blow the roof off the Saints' small but cozy gym.
Broadneck coach Ken Kazmarek is excited about the play of his two guards, senior Johnny Williams and junior Jeff Vincent. Vincent poured in 26 points Friday night and Williams chipped in with 11 in a 65-46 rout of Chesapeake.
"We're going to get better," said Kazmarek. "Those two (Williams and Vincent) have played very well for us and the more we play together the better we're going to get."
The team is off to a 3-1 start, 2-0 with Annapolis in the County Bay Division, and plays host to Queen Anne's tomorrow night.
Broadneck overcame a poor effort at the foul line to down the Cougars, who were just as bad at the stripe. The Bruins hit only 18 of 30 attempts, while the Cougars were 18-for-32.
The Bruins' only loss thus far was to Meade, 45-42, in the second game of the season. Broadneck will play at least four more games and possibly five before visiting defending State 4A champion Annapolis on Jan. 4.