New cast produces same old results for Eagles

January 29, 1995|By Steven Kivinski | Steven Kivinski,Contributing Writer

As with other coaches around the country who train athletes at high schools situated on or near a military base, Ron Petrey never knows who he will have on his roster from one year to the next.

"They come and go and you just keep your fingers crossed that you don't lose the good ones," said Petrey, who is midway through his seventh year as head coach of Aberdeen's varsity boys basketball team. "Whatever happens, you have to live with it and you have to make do with what you have."

When three of his projected starters moved away from Aberdeen Proving Grounds before the start of the season, Petrey began shuffling his lineup to try and find the combination of players that he believed could help the Eagles reach their annual goal of winning the Harford County championship, earning one of the top seeds in the region playoffs and getting to College Park.

Whether or not Petrey has found the blend that will help get the Eagles (10-4) to the Class 2A state playoffs at Cole Field House is still unknown, but after an up-and-down start, the Eagles had won eight straight until Friday's 70-59 upset loss to Edgewood.

"When we came into the year, it was difficult at first to sort out the players I had because I didn't have anything to view from the previous year," said Petrey. "I had to start from scratch and piece the team together, I still am piecing it together. We're still evolving as a team."

One player Petrey has been able to watch develop is senior Jimmy Greene, the Eagles' lone returning starter. Greene, a 5-foot-8 point guard with good hands, quickness and no fear of taking it inside, ran Aberdeen's offense during last year's 15-6 campaign that, for the fourth straight year, ended with a loss in the region finals.

This year, Greene, who has assumed the team's leadership role, doing everything in his power to help the Eagles soar beyond the region finals.

"This is my last year and I want to go all the way," said Greene, the only Aberdeen player averaging in double-figures in scoring with just over 16 points per game. "I let the younger players know that I don't have another chance after this. It's now or never for me."

Greene isn't alone. Doug Bishop, Tommy Davis, Tony Franklin, Larry Lowe, Eugene Norton and Martel Ware are all seniors, and they, too, are feeling a sense of urgency.

Said Petrey: "We've been knocking on the door, we just can't get through it."

After watching his team slip to 2-2 after a 69-67 overtime loss to Howard, Petrey was looking for a "spark" and he found it on Aberdeen's junior varsity. Petrey brought up James Smith and Tommy Mims for the Westminster Holiday Tournament and the two sophomores not only stayed on the team, but worked their way into the starting lineup.

"At the beginning of the year we weren't playing very hard or with much intensity and they [Smith and Mims] were doing a great job on the JV level and I thought they deserved to come up," said Petrey.

"Initially, I was just hoping to get them some playing time in the Christmas tournament and then send them back down but they play so well and with so much intensity that I thought I would keep them around.

"I think it helped the other kids to play harder because they began to realize that if they weren't going to play hard someone else was."

In nearly every one of Aberdeen's 10 wins, someone different has stepped up for the Eagles. Junior Adam Vesely scored a game-high 14 points in the Eagles' season-opener and 16 in their victory over C. Milton Wright.

Davis scored 28 points in Aberdeen's 69-67 overtime loss to Howard and Lowe threw in a game-high 21 points in the Eagles' 59-57 triumph over Westminster in the opening round of the Owls tournament.

Greene scored 28 and 19 points, respectively, in wins over Joppatowne (59-57) and Fallston (68-64), before Gabe Neal came through with 26 points in Aberdeen's 89-67 win over upstart North Harford.

"Every game, someone comes through," said Greene, who is also averaging close to four steals and four assists. "I'd rather the scoring be balanced so other teams have more than just one person to worry about."

Rounding out Aberdeen's young, deep and talented squad are juniors Derek Cromwell, Mark Stevens, Truth Morrison and Loren McDaniels.

"This year's team is not as good as some of the teams we've had in the past, but that doesn't mean they can't go as far or farther than those teams," said Petrey. "We talk a lot about improving each day and taking them one at a time. I'm pleased with our progress, but we can't stagnate. We still have a long way to go."

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