Hammond's Stevens a real sport He's a star in football, basketball, track

February 14, 1993|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,Staff Writer

Hammond football, basketball and track star Kelvin Stevens said he was asked by one football coach not to play basketball.

"But I just couldn't stay away from basketball," Stevens said.

Hammond basketball coach Jack Burke is thankful for Stevens' decision, and lavish with his praise for Stevens' basketball play.

"He's the quintessential point guard and is the team's acknowledged leader," Burke said. "He's been our most consistent player, the glue that's held us together. He's quick as a cat, and you only need to tell him something once and he understands what you want.

"Kelvin is a mentally tough, fierce competitor who has made himself a player through dedication and who'll be a winner in life, no matter what."

Stevens, a 5-foot-9, 162-pound senior, caught 43 passes as a wide receiver in football last fall, and he intends to play football at one of four schools -- Shepherd, Shippensburg, West Virginia Wesleyan or Tulane.

But he's played basketball since he was 8 years old and can't get it out of his blood. He grew up in a basketball hotbed -- Charlotte,

N.C. His family moved to Maryland when he was in the seventh grade.

4 As Hammond's point guard, he doesn't score much.

"To be a consistent shooter you need to shoot every day, and I didn't play much basketball during football season," Stevens said.

His main contributions are directing the team's motion offense and making steals that disrupt opposing offenses. Without him, the Bears probably would not have surged into a tie for the league lead recently.

Steven's value was evident in a 75-59 loss to Glenelg early in the league season. Hammond rallied to cut a 17-point Glenelg halftime lead to six in the fourth quarter. Then Stevens fouled out and the Bears fell apart.

Stevens' value also was evident in the Glenelg rematch won by Hammond last Wednesday, 68-64. He scored only six points but made eight steals.

The biggest steal came with 1:08 left to play and Hammond ahead, 65-61. Glenelg point guard Jamie Brinker was holding the ball with two hands looking to pass, and Stevens, a devoted weight-lifter, snatched it away.

On the ensuing play, Glenelg's top scorer for that game, Scott Cline (29 points), fouled out -- a crucial turn of events created by Stevens' steal.

He's had as many as 10 steals in one game, and as many as nine assists. His highest-scoring game was 11.

Stevens, who was moved up from junior varsity to varsity midway through his sophomore season, started most of Hammond's games last year when the Bears had a disappointing 8-14 season and failed to make the playoffs.

He's started all but one game this year and sees a significant difference between the two teams.

"Last year we had people playing for themselves," Stevens said. "Now we're playing as a team. Everyone has a certain job."

Stevens is a tri-captain, along with Kris Jefferson and Jason Myatt, and they've had to provide leadership for a team that has great depth and a significant number of young players.

He says his biggest personal improvement this season is his defense. He played Oakland Mills' extremely quick point guard George Robinson even and held Wilde Lake's high-scoring Seth Willingham to six points.

Stevens is sort of a defensive quarterback, and sometimes on his own is allowed to call for a change in the team's defensive alignment.

"But most of the time I have to go to the sideline and ask the coaches," Stevens said.

Stevens says basketball is tougher than his other sports because of the demanding practices. The team even has practiced three times this season immediately after games.

"We run so much in practice that games are a get-off from work," Stevens said.

His dream for this basketball season is to defeat Oakland Mills with the county championship on the line.

The two schools are geographically close and are archrivals. But Oakland Mills has beaten Hammond nine straight times in basketball.

The teams play one another in the next-to-last league game Feb. 23 at Hammond, so Stevens' dream has a chance of coming true. The Bears are 3-0 in league games at home this season.

"We never have any problem stepping up our game for Oakland Mills," Stevens said.

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