December 03, 1992|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,Staff Writer

The more that Old Mill's girls basketball team wins, the more questions it has to answer.

When her players claimed the state Class 4A championship two seasons ago, coach Pat Chance was asked repeatedly about trying to duplicate the feat. After the Patriots did just that last winter -- becoming only the second 4A team to win back-to-back titles -- she was bombarded with inquiries about the possibility of win three straight.

Chance isn't looking that far down the road. She's more concerned with possible letdowns, a lack of improvement, and "coming up on the short end of the stick."

"I feel we've got to step our play up a little this year," said Chance, who has 328 career victories. "To say we will whip through the county this year, I can't do that."

Everyone else is saying it. Old Mill again is considered the overwhelming favorite to return to the states, and with good reason.

The frontcourt contains seniors Anne Chicorelli (6 feet 1), Debbie Dawson (6-0) and Allison Wentworth (5-10). The bench includes 5-11 junior Jackie Bardelli and 6-foot sophomore Dana Dawson -- the only newcomer to the varsity.

The backcourt is no less formidable. Seniors Stacy Himes, a 5-10 swingman who may be the most gifted player in the county, and guards Chris Baer (5-6) and Lee Ann Lezzer (5-9) will vie for playing time. Baer made the All-County second team last year.

Also back are junior guard Michelle Salmon (5-5) and sophomore guards Tiffany (5-3) and Tinnell (5-2) Slade. Everyone is capable of bringing the ball upcourt.

Chance, who lost just two players from last season, has the luxury of going either with a taller or quicker lineup, depending on the opposition. Either way, Himes will be a factor.

A first-team All-Metro selection last year, she averaged 10.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 3.7 steals and 1.2 blocked shots. With so many of Old Mill's contests turning into blowouts, Chance went to her bench early.

That scene could be repeated frequently this year.

"When you look on paper, this team is scary, so I try not to look on paper," said Chance, whose squad went 25-1 last season, losing only to Mount Hebron of Howard County in a Christmas tournament. The Patriots won their last 20 games, and only two teams lost to them by fewer than 10 points.

They look every bit as potent this year. And Chance isn't the only one who finds that scary.

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