Dimension added to Severna Park

January 13, 1995|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,Sun Staff Writer

The Severna Park girls basketball teams of the past have been built for speed, with coach Kevin McGrath working around any height deficiencies keep the program competitive.

Then, along came Jennifer Holmes.

"All of a sudden," McGrath said, "we've got a big one."

What the No. 7 Falcons (9-1) have is a 6-foot-2 junior center whose rebounding, shot blocking and occasional offensive outbursts have college coaches flocking to Severna Park's games.

Holmes, 16, spent her freshman year on the junior varsity before earning a starting job on the varsity last season, when the Falcons put together an 11-game winning streak en route to the Class 4A East Region final. She averaged around 11 points and 13 rebounds on a team that relied mostly on its backcourt and small forwards.

She combined for 32 rebounds and 13 blocks in two games against rival Old Mill and had 13 points and 17 rebounds in a 73-64 win over Calvert in the region semifinals. In that game, she held Calvert's 6-1 senior center, Tammy Lumpkin, to seven points and six rebounds, forcing her into early foul trouble.

But the best, McGrath knew, was yet to come.

A sampling of just how dominant a player she can be occurred Dec. 16, when registered 27 points, 26 rebounds and six blocks in a 55-48 win over Annapolis.

Panthers coach Dave Griffith put two freshmen on Holmes, both more than 6 feet tall, but they were no match.

"She just tore us up," he said. "She's going to be a force in the county."

That may have been too restrictive. For the season, Holmes is averaging 14 points and is second in the metro area in rebounding at 18, trailing Joppatowne's 6-1 Brandi Barnes (19.7), who has appeared in fewer games.

Most recently, she scored 16 points and pulled down 20 rebounds in Tuesday's 75-37 victory over South River.

Tall teams have their hands full with her. Smaller ones are at her mercy.

"On any given night, she can be a show-stopper," McGrath said.

"She probably could have been on the varsity as a freshman, but she would have ended up sitting behind somebody anyway. As a sophomore, I knew she fit. She did a nice job on defense and rebounded real well, but she wasn't that much of an offensive threat."

Said Holmes: "Holding me back actually made me better. It would have been a waste of time to sit on the bench. You have to play in order to learn the tricks of basketball, and there are a lot of tricks."

Over the summer, McGrath asked her to work on using the backboard and shooting more with her left hand. She also gained invaluable experience with the Chesapeake Bay Hurricanes' 15-and-under team that went to the nationals in Shreveport, La., and came back to Severna Park a much-improved player.

"I started getting all these calls from college coaches who had seen her, raving about how she rebounds. And it's true," McGrath said. "She's got a lot of natural ability. Usually, a big kid can run, but can't catch, or vice-versa. She can do both."

She isn't as consistent as McGrath would like, but that will come with time.

"I need to fake more and work on my ball-handling so I can be more versatile," said Holmes, who played volleyball during the fall to strengthen her legs. "I need to work more with taller players so I can be more challenged. I really need to work on everything. There's always room for improvement."

The gap is closing, however.

"I was thinking the other day that she reminds you a lot of David Robinson," said McGrath, comparing her to the former Naval Academy All-American now with the NBA's San Antonio Spurs. "She's not the same offensive threat, but she can rebound and run the court. If she's not the fastest girl in the program, she's the second-fastest."

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