At Arundel, girls, boys hoop it up

SIDELINES

January 08, 1995|By PAT O'MALLEY

It happened six years ago, but a move that Arundel athletic director Bernie Walter made then is coming to full harvest this season.

Walter talked then Arundel boys basketball coach Lee Rogers into taking over the Wildcats girls program and in turn hired Rogers' assistant, Gerald Moore, as boys basketball coach.

After an inaugural 6-16 season in 1989-90, the girls program under Rogers took off while the boys dragged at the outset under Moore, but have come on the past three seasons and established themselves as the 4A team to beat in 1994-95.

It's a realistic possibility that both teams could be headed for the final four in their 4A East regions. It would be a first in school history for the girls and the first since 1975 for the boys.

The Arundel girls are ranked No. 12 and are 9-0 after Friday night's 80-66 victory over Northeast, and the No. 15 boys are 7-2, including a victory at Annapolis on Tuesday and Friday's 89-53 romp past Northeast.

Rogers has established himself as one of the top girls basketball coaches in the entire metro area. His ability to coach girls was evident to Walter in the excellent job Rogers turned in each year as head volleyball coach.

Rogers has gained his players' respect and has built a first-class program. No longer is there a fear of losing quality players such as 5-foot-11 junior Chavonne Hammond to a private school.

"A couple schools were after her last summer, but she's staying and we're glad," said Rogers.

The fact that Hammond, who had 21 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks in Tuesday's 61-40 victory over defending 4A East Region champion Annapolis (3-5), is staying is a tribute to what Rogers has built in six years.

Rogers has a seasoned squad of underclassmen with no seniors. Hammond heads a brilliant junior class that includes 5-7 players Kara Kitchen and Shannon Noon, and 5-9 Jen Mottar. Five-seven Sherice Proctor is one of three freshmen on the varsity.

After a losing record as the boys coach, Rogers has gone 75-48 (.609) with the girls, including last year's 17-6 mark, the best in school history.

Just as boys coach Moore said, "my biggest win is yet to come," the same can be said for Rogers and his team.

Moore uttered those words Tuesday night after his Wildcats won for the first time in Annapolis since 1975 by 66-64. It was only the second victory over Annapolis since that season, the other coming during the 1992-93 season by 76-74 at Arundel.

The first Annapolis victory since the '75 season coincided with what was the Wildcats' first winning season (15-8) since 1979 under Bill Zucco. Last year's Wildcats went 16-8 under Moore (58-63 career) and including this season's 7-2 start are 38-18 over the last three seasons after Moore started out at 15-43.

Moore likes to say his program "has paid its dues," and it's true considering the losing seasons. Not even Broadneck's highly successful coach, Ken Kazmarek, could produce a winning season in Gambrills during the 13 consecutive losing years.

a,3 In his first head coaching experience, Kazmarek led Arundel to a 11-12 finish in 1983-84. The next season, Kazmarek moved to Broadneck where he has gone 178-64, and Rogers took over the Arundel boys.

The Arundel boys have not been to the state final four since 1975, but Bakari Ward, Marquise Farmer and Kevin Higgins lead the talented Arundel team that has its sights set on that goal.

"Right now we feel we can beat anybody," said Ward, the county's leading scorer (23.3 average) after scoring 17 points in Tuesday's two-point victory over the Panthers that was decided by Higgins' left-handed lay-in with eight seconds left.

Moore proudly pointed to how far his program has come in that Higgins, Farmer and junior sub Andy Vermillion stepped up to contribute in that game.

"We proved we are more than just Bakari," said Moore, who until this season was accustomed to playing six or seven players. "For the first time we can go 10 deep, we've got some depth now, and we can give different looks using that many players.

"This is a team with the potential to do things. We've been winning lately, but we want to get to the next level, the championship level."

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