Compact duo drives Lakers to top

December 18, 1992|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Staff Writer

Nut and Stink can be extremely nasty on the basketball court.

In fact, the two Lake Clifton guards can be downright offensive.

"Both of them just love to win, and that's what motivates them primarily," Lakers coach Charlie Moore said about his backcourt tandem, senior Kevin "Stink" Norris and sophomore Shawnta "Nut" Rogers.

They come in two compact packages -- Rogers stands 5 feet 5, and Norris is just two inches taller -- but they're like two sticks of dynamite for the No. 2 Lakers.

Norris can dunk the ball, and Rogers can touch the rim. In a month, Rogers, says, "I'll be able to dunk the ball, too. I think I'll grow at least two more inches."

"With them back there, we have a tremendous amount of options," said Moore, whose Lakers are 2-1 entering today's 4A-2A division game against Poly.

"We flip-flop as far as who plays the point -- sometimes it's Kevin, sometimes it's Shawnta," said Moore. "We like to run a stack, motion, a little post, more motion, you know, to mix it up so that the other team stays confused."

Opposing teams were always confused, said Norris, during their early years with East Baltimore's Cecil-Kirk recreation leagues.

"We're both small, we're first cousins, and we always stayed together," said Norris, 17, who maintains a solid B average and is considering such colleges as Northwestern, James Madison, Georgetown, the University of Massachusetts and Maryland.

"Sometimes, they thought we were brothers because we're never apart. We always worked well together, there was never a conflict."

Norris was cut when as a 6-year-old, he tried out for a team of 8-to-10-year-olds. But his persistence paid off the following year, when he made the team.

Rogers always tagged along to watch his cousin in games, but thought he was a born football player.

"Football was my sport," said Rogers, 16. "I just felt I was better at it and that's what I wanted to do."

But the persistent Norris wanted his best friend at his side.

"I kept begging him to play, and finally he did. And the best part about him was his defense -- he had no offense, except for bricks," said Norris. "His shooting got better after about a month, but before that, he'd just stay on my back all the time. And if it wasn't for him, I don't think my dribbling would be as good as it is today."

Rogers says he's always used Norris as a sort of role model, paying close attention to Norris' transition from recreation leagues to high school, and watching him lead this year's squad on which just two seniors make major contributions.

"He's always encouraging me, even off the court, like with school work, especially like in algebra last year," said Rogers. "He's more of an assist player, I'm more of a shooter. He's got the dribbling skills and he's more fancy, I'm real basic and I'm less likely to try those things."

The two players know the angles on Lake Clifton's basketball court. In fact, says Norris, "we practically grew up living" in the Lakers' gymnasium, which was the site of their home games in Cecil-Kirk.

"We call it our house," Norris said.

And so far this season, they have been rather unaccommodating hosts. Take last weekend's Function at the Junction Mixer at Walbrook.

In Friday's 90-59 victory over then 16th-ranked St. Frances (now No. 17), the pair helped nine different players score. Rogers had 10 points and seven assists and Norris had eight and 11.

The highlight of the second period, in which the Lakers outscored the Panthers 20-8, were two ferocious dunks by junior forward Terrence Payne -- the second coming off of an alert alley-oop pass from Norris -- that gave Lake Clifton a commanding 38-25 lead.

"Kevin's the one that's going to get Payne involved in our offensive set, so that Payne's going to say, 'Hey, I'm a part of the team now, lemme grab a defensive rebound,' " Moore said. "Kevin could score 40 points a game if he wanted to. But I told him at the beginning of the year that he'd have to be more of a leader for us to be successful, and he's done that."

In three games, Norris averaged a team-high 17.3 points and an area-leading 7.7 assists to go along with the seven three-pointers that rank second only to Rogers' nine.

"My thing is that I like to pass. I'd rather have 20 assists than 20 points," said Norris, who nearly had that many assists (19) in a game last year against Poly. "At the beginning of the game, I like to try to get everybody the ball and just see who's ready."

The two turned it up a notch in Saturday's 103-87 rout of fourth-ranked Walbrook, with Norris netting 29 points and Rogers getting 22 points and six assists. Together, they helped force 22 Warriors' turnovers, which led to quick layups and three-pointers.

Yet the wins did little to blunt the pain of losing the season-opener, 68-65, in overtime to Archbishop Molloy (5-0) of New York City in the Charm City/Big Apple Classic, although Norris (15 points) and Rogers (20 points, seven boards) had done all they could.

Rogers' three-pointer cut Molloy's leads to 66-63. He later hit a couple of free throws to get within 66-65 with a few seconds left. But the visitors nailed it down with two free throws with 1 second left.

Despite having players such as Payne, junior Bernard Williams and 6-4 sophomore Reggie Frazier in the lineup, Rogers (17 points, five assists) was the team's second-leading rebounder over three games.

"It's about speed," said Rogers. "I like pressure, it makes me work harder. This is going to be a good season for us, and we think we know what we can expect."

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