Players To Watch

December 06, 1993|By Bill Free and Glenn P. Graham

* Julie Baker, North Carroll, 5-5, Soph., G -- The heir apparent to the Panthers' graduated point guard Ashlee Douglas. Baker is young and inexperienced but has the natural ability to play the important point-guard position. Look for Baker to split time with junior Cori Bradford early in the season before taking over the job.

* Julie Backof, Westminster, 5-9, Sr., F -- One of the best all-around athletes in the county, Backof is coming off a solid season in goal for the Owls' soccer team. Now, she must turn her attentions to basketball where coach Bernie Koontz will rely on her heavily to do a little bit of everything. Backof can handle the ball well, score and rebound and will lead by example.

* Jill Ballard, North Carroll, 5-8, Jr., F -- She has the size and '' athletic instincts to be an outstanding basketball player for the Panthers, who will need some scoring punch inside. Ballard knows a lot about winning after a successful field hockey season in which she led North Carroll to an 11-2-1 record and the county championship and was named the Player of the Year in Carroll County.

* Amber Clutter, South Carroll, 5-5, Jr., G -- Top returning point guard in the county this season after a solid sophomore campaign. Lightning quick with great vision of the entire court. An unselfish player who does a great job of driving to the basket and finding open teammates. Averaged 7.0 points per game last season despite often overlooking her own scoring opportunities.

Ashley Davis, Liberty, 5-7, Soph., F -- Another one of the young players for the Lions who is expected to provide a good bit of offense in coach Tom Delise's inside game. Davis is called a tremendous offensive player by Delise, but he said she needs to work on her defense.

* Melissa Gettemy, South Carroll, 5-7, Jr., G/F -- A versatile player who likes to mix it up inside and outside, Gettemy averaged over eight points a game for the Cavaliers last season. A great all-around athlete who is very aggressive at both ends of the floor. Most success comes driving to the basket, but an improving outside game will give her an added dimension that should give opponents fits.

* Natalie Hannibal, Liberty, 5-4, Jr., G -- Hannibal showed flashes of excellence last season and will have an opportunity to be more involved in the offense this season with the departure of standouts Amy Wolff and Dani Fostik. Hannibal will need to score and handle the ball well for the Lions.

* Jessica Horneman, Liberty, 5-8, Soph., F -- A young and aggressive inside player with strength, Horneman possibly could solve some of the Lions' problems this season. Horneman will be needed to score and rebound a lot in her first season on the varsity.

* Melanie Montgomery, Francis Scott Key, 5-8, Sr., F -- Coach Brian Hollingsworth believes this is the year Montgomery breaks through. A three-year varsity player, Montgomery has great leaping ability and has worked hard on her game in camps over the summer. After averaging 2.0 points per game in the Eagles' guard-oriented offense last season, Montgomery will be a go-to player inside for the Eagles this season.

* Casey Rhoten, North Carroll, 5-8, Sr., C -- Rhoten contributed a lot of important baskets for the Panthers last season as the team marched to the 2A region finals and finished with an 18-6 record. She no longer will be playing in the shadow of first-team All-Carroll County selection Michele Jeffery, and that could help her game.

* Maureen Ritcey, Francis Scott Key, 5-5, Jr., G/F -- Can play all five positions. An intense player with great natural athletic ability, Ritcey is the top scorer back for the Eagles after averaging 6.3 points per game last season. Ritcey does everything well and is providing a lot of leadership to the younger Eagles.

* Nicole Spencer, South Carroll, 5-9, Jr., F -- No other player in the county can dominate in the same fashion as Spencer. Looks to be back to near 100 percent after a knee injury sidelined her for the second half of last season. Came back strong after surgery and enjoyed a solid volleyball season. Last season she averaged 13-plus points a game and nearly double figures in rebounding before the injury.

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