This, that and the other:
High school coaches always talk about the value of experience and senior leadership. But when it comes to girls basketball in Howard County, leadership and experience aren't shouldered by many seniors these days.
In recent years, the county's high schools -- thanks to excellentrecreational feeder systems like the Columbia Basketball Association-- have benefited from talented underclassmen. That trend has never been more apparent than this season.
All one has to do for proof is look at the county's top three teams.
Mount Hebron tore through the league undefeated again and finished the regular season as the area's top-ranked team without a senior on its roster. Howard wound up with a 19-5 record and a second-place, 11-3 finish in the county withtwo juniors and a freshman among its starting cast. And Hammond finished a game behind Howard with a senior-less roster.
The top players from those teams read like a who's-who of Howard County, and they figure to crowd the All-County teams to be selected in the coming weeks.
From Mount Hebron, junior point guard Erica McCauley (13.7 points, 4.6 assists), junior forward Kris Bryant (14.6 points, 10.2 rebounds) and sophomore guard Emily Yanero (14.9 points) have formed arguably the state's best trio all season.
Junior guards Camille Powell (eight points, 4.6 rebounds, 6.1 assists, 5.5 steals) and Sharon Ford (12 points, six rebounds) were the catalysts for Howard from the beginning. Freshman guard/forward Mona Jackson (12 points, 8.5 rebounds) was the league's most athletic, exciting performer.
Hammond hasput the youngest team on the floor every night, so young that guard Kristen Moraz stood alone as the veteran. Sophomores Kacy Williams (15.8 points, 6.9 rebounds, five steals, four assists) and Sonia Keiner(13.2 points, nine rebounds) have been the heart of the Bears all year. Then there's the freshman tandem of Tiki Nicholson (eight points,4.7 rebounds) and Tameka Harrison (5.7 points, 6.8 rebounds) who have started together for more than a month.
Howard County girls basketball arrived several years ago as a statewide force, and outdid every other county last year by sending three teams -- Mount Hebron, Oakland Mills and Glenelg, almost half the county -- to the state tournament.
With talent like this waiting in the wings, the county figures to outdo itself next year and beyond.
Mount de Sales Academy, a private girls school located in Catonsville, struggled to a 7-12, fifth-place finish in the Catholic League this year. But one bright spot was senior forward Lisa Migrock, a Glenwood resident.
Migrock averaged 16.1 points, 12.5 rebounds, 3.3 steals, two blocked shotsand hit 73 percent of her free throws. She also carries a 3.84 grade-point average, and overcame two knee operations to excel on the court in her final year.
Chalk up two more scholarships for the Wilde Lake football program. George Bradford and Blaise Connelly-Duggan are headed to Elon College (N.C.) on football scholarships.
Two of the county's top girls lacrosse players also have signed early. Howard senior Emily Petrlik, who led the county with 70 goals lastyear, is headed for University of Maryland Baltimore County. And Mount Hebron senior Andrea Cuzmanes, an All-County First Team selection along with Petrlik last spring, will attend College of William and Mary, a Division I power.
Mount Hebron point guard Erica McCauley continues to add to her three-point shooting record. McCauley, whoentered the season having made a school-record 52 treys last year, went into Friday night's 2A Region II title game against Hammond with 64 three-pointers this season.
Credit McCauley more for persistence than accuracy. Last year, she sank 44 percent of her 118 shots frombehind the line. Before the Hammond game, she already had taken 181 three-pointers, while making only 35 percent.