Players on the Old Mill girls basketball team still were celebratingtheir 4A state championship last March at Catonsville Community College when talk began of the next season. And not from the Patriots themselves.
Can you repeat as champions? What about the additional pressure of being the favorites? Will anything less than another title suffice?
So much for savoring the moment.
Answers to those questions, and many others, are forthcoming, as the Patriots begin their defense of the championship Wednesday night at Thomas Johnson of Frederick County.
The 4A League has a new look, with Queen Anne's and former 3A-2A inhabitants Southern, South River and Northeast joining the two-division alignment.
The Friendship Division is comprised of the county's six largest schools: Annapolis, Chesapeake, Glen Burnie, Meade, Old Mill and Severna Park. The six remaining county schools and Queen Anne's make up the Bay Division.
Meanwhile, the county's private school entries are working overtime to recover from the loss of keyplayers to graduation.
The following is a look at the county public and private school teams:
Old Mill coach Pat Chance will be subjected to premature talk of the 1992-1993 season, since her present team includes six juniors and one sophomore. And each possesses considerable talent.
But the veteran coach, owner of 303 victories, is taking her usual, cautious approach.
"We have a lot of coal that needs to be polished if we're going to make a few diamonds," she said.
One player who sparkles is 5-foot-9 junior guard/forward Stacy Himes, who does everything well. Last year, she averaged 11.8 points, eight rebounds, four steals, four assists and two blocked shots.
"The team doesn't totally rely on her, but she's a good ballplayer, no question about that," Chance said.
The Patriots are strong in every area. The backcourt includes 5-5 senior Amy D'Annunzio, 5-6 junior Chris Baer, 5-9 junior swingman Lee Ann Lezzer and 5-3 sophomore Michelle Salmon. Thefrontcourt includes 5-9 senior Cindy Davenport, 6-foot juniors Anne Chicorelli and Debbie Dawson, and 5-10 junior Allison Wentworth.
Broadneck's frontcourt was stripped of 6-foot players Andrea Macey (12 points, 10 rebounds), who graduated, and Theresa Cornish (seven points, six rebounds), who moved to New Jersey.
Luckily for Coach Bruce Springer, he still has 6-1 forward/center Jen Chapman, who will have to increase her five-point scoring average of last season with the departures of Macey, Cornish and shooting guard Crystal Adams.
But Springer says the Bruins have "a lot back," with 11 returnees, including 5-10 senior Sarah Bannat. Plus, 5-11 forward Kennita Kirby Jones has joined the Bruins, giving them a superb leaper.
"We'll be very versatile," Springer said. "We can go with three big players and two guards, like last year, or three guards and two post players because of our quickness. Last year, we were bigger, but slower."
Severna Park coach Kevin McGrath is happy to report that his team will be bigger than last season.
What doesn't thrill him is the loss of six players to graduation and another who elected not to return. But McGrath became an expert at juggling his lineup last winter after a slew of injuries.
Severna Park is deep atpoint guard with seniors Nicki Cecere and Tiffany Matthews and junior Amy Carnaggio. Junior Lori Sharpless, who filled in at shooting guard for injured Lori Habicht last year, will see plenty of minutes.
The Falcons can attack inside with junior returnees Brandee Snyder (5-11) and Katie Marks (5-10), junior newcomers Kristin Drapalski (5-11) and Dawn Jacukwicz (5-10) and sophomore newcomer Jen Conner (5-8).
They have a brutal schedule, however, with their first home game not until Jan. 10. They open with Westminster, Northern, Seton Keoughand Frederick.
"We're thinking of taking a plane for three of those," McGrath said jokingly. "We'll find out how good we are in a hurry."
So will Glen Burnie, which meets Northeast tonight in the season opener for both teams.
The Gophers have a new coach in Patty Dages, an assistant at Annapolis last year who graduated from Brooklyn Park in 1983 as the county's all-time leading scorer.
Among the players she inherited is junior point guard Kelly Rodgers, whom Dages calls "the most advanced defensive player we have."
Dages labels 5-6 senior forward Tonia Walker "the most physical one. She has an awesome vertical jump and natural, raw talent."
Much of the Gophers' offense and leadership will come from junior guard Melissa Schaffer. "She'll be the one to come through in the clutch," Dages said.
Overat North County, that role falls to 6-foot senior forward Renita Johnson, who averaged 14.7 points last season. She blocked 46 shots, grabbed 253 rebounds and had 33 assists.
Despite her numbers, Johnsonwill need support from returning guards Tonya Kolodziejski, a senior, and Nicole Faulkner, a junior.
Coach Sally Entsminger expects good things from 5-11 sophomore center Joy Farmer.