The high-scoring Glenelg Gladiators have won their first three gamesby lopsided scores, and hope a few more wins will bury the unpleasant memory of last year's 3-18 boys basketball team.
Veteran coach Terry Coleman is calling this team the best he's had since 1983, when Glenelg was 15-9.
Wednesday's victory over Martin Spalding at Glenelg typified the season thus far. The team combined ball-handling and shooting skills with an up-tempo style that ran Spalding out of the game early and produced an 89-71 win.
Glenelg led, 25-15, after the first quarter, 49-35 at halftime and 77-51 after three quarters. They are averaging 88 points per game -- exactly 30 points higher than against the same three opponents last year.
"This team is fundamentally sound, can dribble, pass and shoot, and that's something we haven't had in past years," Coleman said.
Much of the team's improvement reflects the work of junior varsity coach Klaude Kranebitter, said Coleman.
Kranebitter, a health teacher at Glenelg Middle School, "has worked withthis group since they were eighth-graders. He knows the game, is enthusiastic and understands what we want to accomplish," Coleman said. The junior varsity lost only one game last season, and the foundationKranebitter built is paying off for the varsity.
"I like our chemistry," Coleman said. "They enjoy working together and don't mind giving the ball up when they should."
The Gladiators are extremely quick and never seem to tire. The team's first eight players can shoot and handle the ball well, and three guards -- Craig Flurry, Scott Cline and Jamie Brinker -- are capable of playing the point position.
Senior forward Jeff Slack, whom Coleman calls the most improved player in the league, shows good leaping ability and drives to the hoop well. He's only 6 feet 2 and 150 pounds, however, so the jury is stillout on how well he'll hold up inside against bigger, more physical players.
Wednesday, he scored 26 of his 28 points in the first three quarters before the subs took over.
Senior forward Kevin Roland,also 6-2, is Glenelg's other rebounding threat.
One would have thought that by playing on back-to-back days the Gladiators might slow down Wednesday, especially since their top two subs, Jeff Lewis and Chris Mullinix, were not in uniform. Lewis suffered a concussion in Tuesday's game and isn't expected back until Wednesday. Mullinix was ata 4-H convention in Chicago.
But the action rarely lagged.
"Jamie Brinker was disappointed he didn't score more," Coleman said. "But he ran things, played good defense and is the one person I can't afford to lose."
About the only negative thing to be said about Glenelg is its lack of size.
Some critics, however, might suggest thatGlenelg has played a weak schedule so far. And Coleman acknowledges "some truth to that" -- Glenelg defeated Westminster, 80-60, in theiropening game Dec. 6, then beat North Carroll, 94-68, Tuesday.
Butthe Gladiators also have lost to those teams in recent years, "so why change the schedule now?" responds Coleman.
Glenelg has a good chance to enter the league season with an 8-0 record, since its schedule doesn't get any tougher until then.
But its first three league games are against Howard, Oakland Mills and Wilde Lake -- three of this year's best teams. Last year, the Gladiators went 0-14 in the league.
"Right now, we're just hoping to make the (Class 2A) playoffs," Coleman said. "We don't know how we'll do against the big boys in our league."
Coleman hopes the future will be a continuous, qualitybasketball program at Glenelg, and not just a good team now and then.
"We have another good group of eighth-graders who are coming along," Coleman said.