Parker ranks first in the Express' lineup Howard CC guard key to title hopes

November 11, 1992|By Tom Worgo | Tom Worgo,Contributing Writer

The Howard Community College men's basketball team lost a star in Mark Peters, but it may have found one to replace him in Brian Parker.

Peters led Division III junior colleges last season with 33.5 points per game, and he helped the Express to a 28-5 record while keeping it among the top 10 all year.

Parker, a 1989 Howard County Sun All-County second-team selection and 1992 junior college preseason All-American, is a guard who averaged 22.5 points and 12.5 assists last season. And he may lead the Express to national prominence again.

HCC opens its season today at home against Baltimore City Community College and is ranked eighth in the preseason National Junior College Athletic Association Division III poll among some 100 schools.

HCC coach Wheeler Brown expects the team to be in the thick of the Maryland JuCo and Division III junior college national races for the second consecutive season. And at the center of that success should be HCC's go-to guy -- Parker.

"As far as the season goes, Parker will be instrumental to the team's success. We need Brian to score 20-plus points a game," the fourth-year coach said. "We have the capabilities to defend our [conference] title. And I think we have the capability to go all the way. I feel just as good about this team, if not better, than last year's team at this time."

HCC won the National Division of the Maryland JuCo conference last season with a 19-1 mark and finished one game short of qualifying for the national tournament, losing to Montgomery-Germantown by 3 points last February. Several weeks earlier, the Express, which finished the year ranked No. 3, had beaten the same team by 25 points.

In recent years, HCC relied on a big-time scorer for success. Last year, the Express had Peters. And the previous two seasons, HCC boasted James Hamilton, who averaged more than 30 points per game for both campaigns. This season, however, the team plans on using several players for offensive production.

"We lost quite a bit in terms of scoring power in Mark Peters. Any time you lose 33 points a game, it's hard to replace," said Brown, who has guided the Express to a 56-31 record the last three seasons. "But we feel this year will be more of a well-rounded team and we'll spread the ball around.

"We are dividing the scoring duties between three or four players. And we think it's going to make us a much better club than last year. I think I expect [20 wins] and so do the kids."

Three starters return from last season, including Parker, Old Mill graduate Damion Sewell (11 ppg, four rebounds, 3.5 assists) and forward Jermaine Reynolds (12.5 ppg, 13 rpg), a 1991 Howard County Sun first-team All-County selection from Atholton.

HCC will experience a bit of a lineup shuffle, moving Parker from point guard to shooting guard and shifting Reynolds from power forward to small forward.

HCC also returns three other players who will compete for playing time: guard P. J. Curry (3.5 ppg, 2.8 apg), power forward/center Chris Williams (6 ppg, 4.5 rpg) and 6-7, 220-pound center John Delarue (8.5 ppg, 6 rpg).

Delarue may be an enigma so far in his HCC career. Last year, the sophomore broke his foot in the second game but returned to the lineup with 10 games left in the regular season.

This summer, Delarue broke his foot again, and his availability for this season is uncertain. Delarue, who carries a 3.8 grade-point average, may sit out the season to concentrate on academics, Brown said.

The Express trapped and pressed effectively last year, but had problems recovering from its aggressive defense. This season, HCC may be able to overcome those problems, thanks to improved quickness and a large freshman class.

Among Brown's 10 freshmen is forward/center Andrew Tetteh, a Howard County Sun second-team All-County selection from Hammond. Other county recruits include forward/center Damon Sterling (Atholton) and guard/forward Yaphet Oliphant (Howard).

"We couldn't recover when teams beat our press," Brown said. "This year, we have the quickness and depth to press and trap, but also be quick enough to get back and prevent the easy bucket. We have quality players deep at every position and sometimes three deep."

Brown also boasts of the team's academic accomplishments, saying, "We may be one of the few schools that emphasize academics over athletics."

HCC sent four players from last year's team to four-year schools: Peters (Coastal Carolina College), Paul Graham (Maryland), John Jordan (American) and Todd Henson (Frostburg).

Brown said, "Going into the season with three kids coming back and the six kids total, we thought the foundation is there in terms of being a good team -- to pick up where we left off.

"Last year, we caught a lot of people by surprise. This year, we won't have the luxury of doing that. I think people will expect us to be competitive now. I think this year we will have a much better team talent-wise."

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