Just two tough Hopkins, Rowe help Overlea get off to perfect start

January 10, 1991|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,Evening Sun Staff

With 6-foot-7 Phil Rowe and 6-6 Bernard Hopkins leading the way, Overlea is off to an 8-0 start in basketball.

Interestingly, coach Doug Eisenhauer has the No. 12-ranked Falcons winning with ball-handling, not superior height.

"It's true," said Eisenhauer. "Phil Rowe may be my best ball-handler and having 'Hop' [Hopkins] sure helps."

Although Rowe, a senior, and Hopkins, a junior, haul down their share of rebounds and frequently block shots, the Falcons run through defensive presses with a five-guard look. And all five -- point guard Ralph Boarman, wing guards Tyrone Thomas and Jermaine Watford plus Rowe and Hopkins -- can pull up for a soft jumper or get a thread-the-needle assist. Hopkins and Thomas, a 6-foot leaper, also add the dimension of driving the lane for a variety of slam dunks.

The Falcons, 5-0 in Baltimore County's Class 2A/1A league, knocked off perennial Class 1A contender Milford Mill, 67-62, on Tuesday and go against Class 2A rival Loch Raven (5-0, 7-2) tomorrow at 8.

"We hadn't played anyone with a winning record until Milford Mill," Eisenhauer said before heading for Atlanta yesterday and the soccer coaches' annual national convention. He left the team under the guidance of assistant Tom Gere for tomorrow night.

Although the Falcons play offense with intensity, they tend to play soft defense at times. Milford proved it, quickly turning a 10-point Overlea lead into a tie game with four minutes remaining.

It did not help the Falcons' cause any when Hopkins twisted an ankle with 14 seconds left in the third quarter, but he quickly returned to show why college recruiters already are expressing an interest in his athletic prowess.

"I've been receiving two or three letters a week concerning Bernard, which I lay on my desk in history class," said Eisenhauer. "Hop knows to pick up his mail when he walks into the classroom."

A formidable tight end for the Falcons' state quarterfinalist football team last fall, Hopkins has slimmed down a bit for the winter season.

"The scale at home is broken," he said. "I really don't know what I weigh. I guess I'm down [from 220] to 205. I'd like to be 200."

Does that mean he prefers his basketball weight to beefing up for football?

"I like both," he said. "But I guess I'll be looking at basketball after next year."

His natural ability and smooth style on the court would seem to make basketball the better choice.

"Football has helped make him tough," said Overlea football coach Terry Ward. "He could probably play either [sport] in college."

With another summer at the Five-Star camp like last year, Hopkins may have college basketball recruiters camping in front of his house.

"I won five trophies at Five-Star last summer," said Hopkins. "I was on the winning team, so we got two team trophies, and I won three individual awards: for most valuable player, best rebounder and most promising prospect."

With more fine tuning on his medium- and long-range jump shot and steady improvement in his defensive game, Hopkins has lots of potential.

"I think Hop will go big time," said Eisenhauer. "He already does little things, such as running a mile before practice. That shows me he wants to do the work.

"His study habits in the classroom are vastly improved over last year, too."

If his future seems bright, so be it. For now, Hopkins only wants to do whatever it takes to help the Falcons win the county championship and reach the regional playoffs.

"When I call [from Atlanta] Saturday morning, I want to hear about our victory," said Eisenhauer with a smile.

Hopkins nodded, and smiled back.

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