Byers, DeMont give Westminster a presence


March 16, 1994|By Glenn P. Graham


Dave Byers, Westminster -- Anyone familiar with the Carroll County basketball scene had to believe that Byers and his Owls would be heard from somewhere down the road.

After a county-opening loss to Liberty, which put them at 4-11 overall, the Owls won their final five county games to successfully defend the championship.

It came down to back-to-back games against South Carroll, which entered the week 3-0 in county play.

The Owls took care of business at home -- a 60-57 overtime win Feb. 21 -- to set the stage for a rematch at South Carroll three days later.

"Three or four weeks ago, we didn't think we'd be in this position. You have to give our kids a lot of credit. They hung in and now this [next] game means something," Byers said after the overtime win.

The rematch looked as if it would come down to the wire in much the same manner, but Westminster dominated the fourth quarter 19-2 and won, 61-42.

Westminster, with four new starters coming into the season, finished 9-12 overall. (South Carroll was the county's only team to reach .500, at 10-10.)

Byers, in his 14th season as Owls coach, says every team and season brings different rewards. This one was fortitude.

"Every year is unique. The biggest reward is seeing the kids do things they didn't think they could do. That's what keeps you in coaching this long," Byers said. "It would have been very easy for them to just bag it, especially after the Liberty loss, but they kept working and found success."


Russell DeMont, Westminster, senior, center -- No other player in the county drew as much attention as DeMont, a 6 feet 7 force who averaged 14.0 points and 11.0 rebounds and blocked 72 shots.

His presence altered games, and that was particularly evident in the Owls' county-clinching win at South Carroll.

DeMont finished the night with 16 points, 11 rebounds and seven blocks.

South Carroll coach Jim Carnes summed it up best after the game: "We were intimidated. DeMont took over and we just didn't have anything inside."

DeMont was the only starter back from the Owls' 1992-93 team that reached the regional playoffs.

"Everyone expected so much from him going in," said Westminster coach Dave Byers. "If he were a guard, we would have just given him the ball and got out of his way. But we had to have guys to get him the ball. He handled it all real well."

DeMont took over games in different ways.

He got his share of points just about every night, despite being defended with tight zones and double teams, but thrived even more as a shot-blocker and rebounder.


Topher Casserly, Francis Scott Key, junior, forward/guard -- His scoring skills gave him strong consideration for Player of the Year honors in his first varsity year.

Casserly, 6-2, led the county in scoring with a 16.1 average, hurting opponents with drives to the basket and three-point shots.

Key coach Jeff Cook relied on him at the start of the season and was pleasantly surprised by how he stepped up to become a team leader.

Casserly had the county's best individual effort of the season in a loss against South Hagerstown.

Key trailed big in the first half with Casserly scoring just two points, but he added 28 in the second half -- including six three-pointers in the third quarter -- to nearly rally the Eagles to victory.

He scored 22 or more points six other times during the regular season.

Joe Monar, Liberty, senior, guard/forward -- Monar, 6-4, did everything asked of him by Liberty coach Scott Kohr, whether it be breaking a press, grabbing a rebound, blocking a shot or scoring a big basket.

"He did all the dirty things for us all season long,'' Kohr said.

Monar averaged 7.6 points and 5.0 rebounds, was one of the county's top defenders and was smooth in driving to the basket.

His all-around game got the respect and attention of the county's opposing coaches.

Brad Schulze, South Carroll, senior, forward -- Just as he did as a junior, Schulze, 6-0, played soundly and consistently.

The Cavaliers had different players come through, but Schulze was the mainstay.

He mostly played small forward but also was effective at guard when coach Jim Carnes needed him there.

He averaged 13.7 points and got his share of rebounds and assists.

He scored 26 in victories against Liberty and Damascus and had 20 or more three other times.

Charles Van Horn, Westminster, senior, guard -- No player better depicts the Owls' season than Van Horn.

After a decent start, he struggled midway through the season, was benched for a few games and persevered in the end to help lead the Owls to a successful defense of their county crown.

After being held scoreless in the Owls' loss to Liberty, Van Horn, 6-0, averaged 20.0 points against his county peers in the Owls' last five county wins.

He finished the season averaging 10.0 points.

His 30 three-point baskets helped give Russell DeMont breathing room inside.

Bruce Wright, North Carroll, sophomore, guard/forward -- There was little talk of Wright at the start of practice.

He transferred from St. Paul's and had two practices with the Panthers before their opener.

But it didn't take long for him to crack the starting lineup and

become the go-to player.

He was second in the county in scoring average (15.6) and averaged 6.5 rebounds.

Wright had a season-high 27 points in a loss to Catoctin and scored all seven of the Panthers' overtime points in a win against Hereford.

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