Will Howard Community College's men's basketball team repeat last year's spectacular season?
Based on its talent, odds are good that the Iron Horse Express may approach or surpass last season's 25-7 record and third-place finish in the national JuCo tournament.
Coach Wheeler Brown, who has built an impressive program since he became head coach in 1989, has lured county standouts Deon Wingfield and Taronn Evans -- both of Wilde Lake.
Wingfield led the county in rebounding with a 12.8 average and was second in scoring, averaging 19.7 points.
Evans was third in county scoring at 17.8 and fourth in rebounding at 8.3.
Three other star players will join Wingfield and Evans. They are Randolph Edison (Edmondson), Mike Doyle (Pallotti) and Darrin Johnson (Arundel).
Edison, an All-Metro point guard, averaged 24 points last season. Doyle, a shooting guard, averaged 27 points. Johnson is coming off a four-year Army hitch, but posted a 27-point average his senior season at Arundel.
"I feel fortunate to have attracted some of the better kids here," Brown said. "We needed to fill the guard spots."
HCC has lost guard Brian Parker's 27-point average. He'll be playing for the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown.
Seven players, including starters Kamau Street, Ray Fount and Joe Herring, will return.
One to watch
The county has produced a bunch of top-notch cross country and long-distance runners over the years.
Zachary Heidepriem, 12, is on the threshold of adding his name to the list.
Heidepriem, a seventh-grader at Glenelg Country School, won two events last week at the National Amateur Athletic Union Junior Olympics.
Competing in the Midget Boys 11-12 age division in Knoxville, Tenn., last Friday, the Ellicott City youth won the 1,500-meter run in 4 minutes, 49.50 seconds, nearly two seconds ahead of runner-up Hector Acosta of California (4:51.44). Mansour Abdur-Rahim of California finished third (4:51.52).
In the 3,000 last Wednesday, Heidepriem finished in 10:08.51, nearly 10 seconds ahead of runner-up John Puryear of Texas (10:18.27). Jose Reyes of California was third (10:38.66).
Heidepriem, a member of the Howard County Junior Striders, is no stranger to winning nationals. As a 10-year-old he won the 1,500 at the Junior Olympics and also won the AAU cross country title.
Too much youth and not enough clutch hitting led to a rocky Baltimore Metro League season for the Dayton Raiders 18-and-under baseball team (11-21).
Greg Hylock (Mount Hebron) led the Raiders with a .388 batting average. The team's second-best hitter, David Gunter (Glenelg), turned in a .341 average.
Dayton batted .274 as a team, but failed to hit in the clutch.
After winning its first three games, Dayton dropped 10 of 11.
"It's so easy to get on a losing streak in this league," coach Matt Myers said. "It really wasn't too bad a season. We played pretty good at the end."
The absence of injured second baseman Joe Mellendick for the first 21 games hurt.
"We didn't turn a double play all season until he got back in the lineup," Myers said. "We had to use a different second baseman nearly every game."
Kurt Weitzel (3-4) of Centennial and Mike Cudzillo (3-3) of Mount Hebron were the team's winningest pitchers, and are eligible to return.
Hard-throwing David Hudson (1-4) of Centennial also should be back.