With Mitchell starring, Randallstown girls are tall order for foes

January 30, 1994|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,Contributing Writer

Now appearing at a gymnasium near you: award-winning superstar Nyota Mitchell and a new and improved supporting cast that is guaranteed to thrill and delight.

They'll run-and-gun. They'll rebound. They'll win by 28 points a game.

And if you're a fan of some other Baltimore County girls team, there's a good chance they'll even make you cry.

From the playbook of director Dave Wright, it's the story that had to be told.

The reviews are in, and the critics are raving about this year's Randallstown Rams.

Thumbs up, says Lansdowne coach Ron Bareford: "They were already a very good team, but you bring in two 6-footers and plant them under the basket and it's a whole different ballgame."

Better than last year, says Woodlawn coach Mary Duckworth: "The frontcourt has really improved. . . . This team really has a lot of depth to it."

No, the eighth-ranked Randallstown basketball team hasn't hit the big screen. But with a roster that features All-Metro forward Mitchell, along with six other players who go at least 5 feet 10, these Rams might yet be headed for the big time.

They're 12-0 in the Baltimore County 3A-4A League -- 13-1 overall -- and have had little trouble handling Woodlawn, Franklin, Lansdowne, Dulaney and Patapsco -- county opponents who have a combined 23-9 record against the rest of the league.

And the Rams are laughing all the way to the states.

"I almost look forward to coming to school every day," said Wright, whose team is 35-2 since the beginning of last season. "Hey, I'm having a good time, the kids are having a good time. Baseball may be my first love, but this has become really fun for me."

With the talent on his roster, it's no wonder.

Mitchell -- almost universally considered the best player in a Baltimore County public school -- leads the way, averaging an area-leading 30.0 points along with 14.1 rebounds and 7.5 assists.

But it's the supporting cast that makes this team so much better than last year's, whose only loss came in the regional playoffs.

Freshmen Katrina Johns and Shavon Henley and sophomore Latonya Chambers are three of the biggest reasons. Johns (6-1), Henley (5-11) and Chambers (5-10) average better than 25 points and 28 rebounds, giving the Rams the most dominant inside game in the county.

"You put those girls inside, and Nyota [also 6-0] can go outside and do whatever she wants," Bareford said.

Mitchell, who spent last season fighting through double- and triple-teams (and still averaged 26 points), says it's a relief to get some help.

"It makes a big difference," Mitchell said. "I don't feel as much pressure. The other teams can't focus on just me."

At times this season, Wright has even played Mitchell in the backcourt, using four tall players with point guard Kim Brown. Wright said he also has been toying with the idea of occasionally playing a lineup with five players over 5-8.

He said the Rams can go at least 10 deep and have five players averaging more than 6.0 points and six averaging more than 5.0 rebounds.

This could be the tallest and deepest team that Baltimore County has seen in years.

"We don't have just a starting five," Brown said. "We have a second starting five that can come in and play just as well."

So far, their closest county game was a 65-56 win over Woodlawn this week. Their only loss came in a Christmas invitational that Wright and half of his players were unable to attend.

So how do you beat Randallstown?

Coaches have varying opinions.

"We'd need to get turnovers before they got the ball on the offensive end," Duckworth said.

Said Bareford: "We'd have to play the perfect game."

Lights. Camera. Action.

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