The Baltimore public schools have cleared the two minor hurdles they had faced in applying to the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association.
The school board voted unanimously on Thursday in favor of allowing the 16 city senior high schools with athletic teams to apply, according to Gary Thrift, the city director of senior high schools, whom city schools superintendent Dr. Walter Amprey has made the point man in this endeavor.
"We're very pleased they saw the benefits to be accrued from it and we're also very elated that Dr. [Elzee] Gladden, the principal of Dunbar, came forward to give his endorsement, as well."
Dunbar was the lone city school to object to joining the state association. Some at the school said the MPSSAA's restrictions on games and travel would hurt the Poets' reputation as a national basketball power.
Also, Thrift said he had a positive meeting with members of the Maryland Scholastic Association on Wednesday at the group's monthly meeting of athletic directors. Amprey and other city officials have made it clear that they would like the city schools to remain members of the MSA, but that the MSA would have to dTC do some creative scheduling to accommodate the city schools.
"We had some healthy dialogue," said Thrift. "I think they would have preferred to have known a little more in advance, rather than reading about it in the paper that morning [Wednesday]. Fortunately, they are receptive to try to work things out with us because they know that we take our relationship with them very seriously. It's not something we want to sever, but to strengthen, and we think it will do just that."
Thrift said the next step is for Amprey to sign the application, which will probably happen within the next couple of weeks with some sort of official ceremony.
County coaches welcome city: The move of city schools into the MPSSAA has been greeted positively by a couple of Baltimore County basketball coaches.
Art Gamzon, whose Catonsville boys team edged Potomac for the Class 3A state title 10 days ago, said the move would help determine a real state champion. He agreed that a certain "shadow" (the city schools) does exist over local schools that win the state titles.
"I think, in the long run, it'll be best for the state," said Gamzon. "It probably addresses the fact that the state of Maryland, from a basketball standpoint, is still divided."
Gamzon said it will force Baltimore County schools -- and other local area teams -- to step it up a notch when competing with the Dunbars and other city schools.
"It forces us to say, 'Hey, if we're going to win it, we're going to have to compete with everybody,' " said Gamzon.
Milford Mill coach Homer Seidel, whose team also won the state title 10 days ago and could play Dunbar in Class 1A action, said he looked forward to the possible change.
"I think it's great," said Seidel, whose team routed Perryville for the school's second championship in five years. "It's great that all the schools have to play by the same rules."
Seidel said he's not afraid of having to meet a city power, such as Dunbar. In fact, he said, he's looking forward to it.
"That's what basketball is all about," said Seidel.
Seidel said this should also go a long way toward determining the true top 20 in the area.
"If you're going to have a top 20 in the metro area and half the schools don't follow the same rules, then what are you saying about the top 20?" said Seidel. "If everyone is under the same rules, you'll know who the top 20 teams are."
Gamzon said Baltimore County's reputation -- deserved or not -- as having second-rate basketball should have improved with the recent state tournament, where the county won two titles and Overlea lost in the 2A title game to Forestville.
"The state tournament was a big plus for Baltimore County," said Gamzon, whose team narrowly missed upsetting city power Lake Clifton in a Christmas tournament. "We're closing that gap."
Polo play: All season, Garrison Forest's polo team competed on the college level because of a lack of high school competition, and it paid off. Last week, Garrison Forest captured the National Interscholastic Polo Tournament in Charlottesville, Va.
Garrison Forest's four seniors -- Holly Bank, Barbara Frost, Stefanie Gammill and Hillary Obrecht -- beat two Connecticut schools -- Kent School and Shallowbrook Polo Club -- to win the championship. Bank and Frost were selected to the national all-star team.
Gatorade Award: Mercy's Stephanie Rohe, an All-Metro first-team basketball selection this season, has been chosen as the girls Gatorade Circle of Champions state Player of the Year. Rohe, a 5-7 guard who averaged 19.8 points, is eligible for the regional and national Player of the Year awards. Dunbar's Donta Bright was named the state's boys winner last week.
Overtime: Amy Tolley, an all-state soccer selection from Old Mill, has decided to attend North Carolina Wesleyan College. . . . Calvert Hall needs football opponents for Sept. 11-12 or 18-19. Call Lou Eckerl at (410) 825-4266. . . . The Curley Lacrosse Alumni Association will meet tonight at 7:30 at Della Rose's Belair Inn, 6900 Belair Road. Call Leo Ryan at (410) 837-0215 during the day or (410) 252-8995 in the evening. . . . There will be a baseball card show at Edgewood High on April 12 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to benefit the school's baseball team and bleacher fund. Call Kevin Tyree at (410) 676-3773.