Notes of interest:
We were willing to bet the ranch that Sylke Knuppel and Sherri Orlosky, after graduating from Glenelg and Atholton high schools, would continue their basketball success in college.
They have not disappointed.
The women's basketball team at Johns Hopkins University is off to a 6-1 start, thanks largely to the outstanding play of Knuppel, the Blue Jays' 5-foot-9 junior forward.
Knuppel is leading Division III Hopkins in scoring (22.8) and rebounding (7.7), and is averaging 3.2 steals and 1.7 assists. She is shooting 45.3 percent from the floor -- including 50 percent from three-point range -- and has made 83.8 percent of her free throws. She has already topped the 30-point mark twice.
Hopkins coach Nancy Blank attributes Knuppel's emergence to three factors: maturity, health and aposition change.
"She (Knuppel) was playing behind some talented seniors last year, and she missed three weeks in the middle of the season with a bad ankle sprain. This year, she has stepped up to becomean upperclassman," Blank said. "We also had a difficult time at first finding a spot for her. . . .In my mind, there's always a spot for Sylke."
This year, that position is shooting forward. Last season,Knuppel played in the low post, mostly with her back to the
basket. That position never agreed with Knuppel, who, as a senior at Glenelg three years ago, took the Gladiators to the Class 2A finals by averaging 20 points a game as a shooting guard. Knuppel set a career scoring record and earned All-Metro Player of the Year honors firing mostly from the outside.
Knuppel is mixing a potent inside game with deadly outside shooting.
"If she was playing Division I, she'd be a shooting guard. Here, not only can she shoot the three-pointer, butshe can take people inside and abuse them," Blank said. "She's playing a complete game. Her defense has improved two-fold since her freshman year. Defense was not part of her vocabulary. She was used to being a scoring machine in high school."
Orlosky, a 5-11 sophomore atNotre Dame, was a scoring and rebounding machine at Atholton. She duplicated Knuppel's feats two years ago by leading the county in scoring (21.4) and by earning Howard County Sun Player of the Year honors.She also led the county with a 14.3 rebounding average and hit a league-high 53 percent of her shots as a senior.
Orlosky has claimed a starting job by honing her outside shot in Notre Dame's three-guardoffense. After beginning the season where she ended it last year -- as the team's sixth man -- Orlosky inherited a starting role last month when star freshman Michelle Marciniak went down with a sprained ankle two games into the season.
Orlosky opened some eyes with a career-high 27 points on 12-for-19 shooting in a victory over Loyola (Baltimore) on Dec. 21. That marked the most points scored in a home game at Notre Dame since 1988. She has started every game since, averaging 9.2 points on 46.4 percent shooting, 40 percent from three-point range.
Notre Dame has struggled to a 3-7 start against a rough schedule. Look for the Irish, who crept into the Top 25 last year at midseason, to regroup. And look for Orlosky to play a significant role asit happens.
Flashing back to football season, Korey Singleton and Raphael Wall, two of the county's more celebrated high school players, had eventful seasons as college freshmen.
Singleton, the Howard County Sun's Player of the Year who rushed for a county record 1,817 yards at Oakland Mills last year, played in all 11 games at Northwestern. Singleton, who played mostly on kicking coverage teams andoccasionally at strong safety, made 11tackles for Northwestern (3-8,2-6 in the Big Ten conference).
He experienced several high points. His pass interception in Northwestern's 41-14 victory over Wake Forest was one. Playing in Northwestern's shocking, 17-11, upset of Illinois was another.
The other came, oddly enough, during a 59-14 drubbing by Michigan before 105,000 spectators in Ann Arbor, Mich. Thatday, Singleton tackled Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard twice.
Like Singleton, Wall, who led Wilde Lake to a state championship last year by rushing for 1,550 yards, had some fine moments in a forgettable season -- at Maryland.
The Terps finished with a 2-9 record,and Wall did not play until the season's eighth week against North Carolina.
In Maryland's 47-7 loss to Penn State, Wall made his presence felt for the first time. He scored his first rushing touchdown, set school records by returning nine kickoffs for 159 yards, and finished with 26 yards rushing and 30 yards receiving. His 215 all-purpose yards were the most ever by a true freshman at Maryland.