Panthers and Bruins once again class of Class 4A BOYS HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL PREVIEW

December 04, 1992|By Pat O'Malley Arundel

Annapolis

Always a trend setter, Annapolis coach John Brady, who brought the run-and-stun offense to the county a few years ago, has changed to a "more democratic approach" this season in hopes of returning to the team's more accustomed pedestal.

Last season, for the first time in 15 years, a Brady-coached Panthers team did not make it at least to the region final and for only the fourth time in his tenure, Brady's Panthers (20-3) did not win the Class 4A, Region IV title.

Eventual Region IV champion Old Mill upset the top-seeded county champions, 71-66, in the semifinals and went on to Cole Field House for the state playoffs.

"As a result of that and Clinton winning the election, I've decided to be more democratic, more liberal than the conservative Republican approach I've had in the past," said Brady, whose Panthers always have come back with a vengeance after losing in the regional.

"In keeping with the times, our fast break will be more liberal, which means we will step up the mph on our 84 feet for 32 minutes offense. And for the first time we are wearing royal blue uniforms. Maroon was much too conservative."

While Brady, whose career record is 318-54, loves to joke, he also will tell you this year's team is "very deep and as quick a team as the '79 [20-3] and the '86 [23-2] teams."

Annapolis returns four seniors in 6-foot-6 center B. J. Gross, forwards Lozonnah James (6-1) and Wendell Williams (6-3) and guard Chad Hartman (6-2).

Also, four juniors are back from what was Brady's youngest team. Forward Larry Brown (6-3), center Joe Pergerson (6-4) and backcourt players Kelsey Watkins (6-1) and Rico Lee (6-2) are the veteran juniors.

Brady is excited about three sophomores and two juniors up from a Ken Gonz-coached junior varsity that was 17-3 last year. Point guard Teshawn Cooper (5-8), whom the coach says "will play a lot," center Ronnie Johnson (6-4) and guard Alhamisi Simms are the promoted sophomores.

The two juniors are Rodney Watts (6-6), who gives Brady four centers (others are Gross, Pergerson and Johnson), and guard Lewis Day (6-3).

"We usually come back pretty strong if we lost in the regional the year before, and I hope history repeats itself," Brady said. Arundel has not had a winning season since 1979, when Bill Zucco, now the school's football coach, was the basketball coach.

But fourth-year coach Gerald Moore is optimistic that this year's team might end the string of 13 losing seasons.

The future is bright with graduates from a junior varsity that was 17-3 and won the county Bay Division last year under Chet Lipton.

"We've haven't had a winning season since I've been here, but on paper we look pretty good," said Moore, who is 21-43 as the Wildcats head coach and was assistant to Lee Rogers for five years before succeeding him in 1989.

Rogers moved over to the girls team and has pulled off dramatic turnaround in that program with two straight 15-win playoff seasons. Moore hopes to do likewise.

"I really think we can make it this year and be in the playoffs," Moore said. "It's a matter of everybody meshing together, and I mean the coaches and players, everybody."

Moore hopes to mesh a diverse group into a winner. He has two outstanding starters among his four returning players as well as two promising transfers and two newcomers who should contribute.

Rich Abrams, a 6-5 senior who averaged 15.8 points and as many rebounds as second-team All-County, is back at forward.

Junior Jeff Hedrick (6-0), one of the top athletes in the county (an All-Metro defensive back in football and starting shortstop on the baseball team) returns at point guard.

Seniors Kevin Brown (5-11 guard) and Mike Fairbanks (6-3 forward) return and will see more minutes this winter.

Sean Soyers (6-5 junior forward) is a transfer from nationally acclaimed DeMatha where he played on the Stags' JV. Moore said, "Sean is really going to help us. He can run the floor and

shoot the jumper.

Willie Leeks (5-10 junior guard) played on a California finalist team last year before moving to the Gambrills area and is "steady and fast," Moore said.

Kris Niemi, a 6-7 senior center, has moved up from junior varsity and newcomer Kevin Higgins (6-3 guard), whom Moore calls "super soph," will see a lot of time.

"We have good athletes and a good attitude," Moore added. "We hope to sneak up on some people this year."

Pat O'Malley

Broadneck

While many coaches let the inexperience blues get them down, Broadneck coach Ken Kazmarek, who has only five returning players (two of them sophomores), takes a more positive perspective.

"The good thing about inexperience is that it's not permanent," said Kazmarek, who begins his ninth season as Bruins coach. "We are pretty inexperienced, but I think after we get a few tough games under our belts, we can be in the hunt."

Broadneck (14-10) was eliminated in the first round of the Class 4A, Region IV playoffs last season by eventual champion Old Mill, 58-56. It was the Bruins' eighth straight postseason appearance.

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