Ngongba moving to Calvert Hall

March 08, 1995|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,Sun Staff Writer

Slightly more than two years after moving to Ellicott City from the Central African Republic, looking for a better education and a chance to play basketball at a higher level, honorable-mention All-American Patrick Ngongba is on the move again.

Sometime within the next two weeks, the 18-year-old junior will leave Mount Hebron, the Howard County public school whose African-American Awareness Association brought him to the United States in December 1993.

His destination is Calvert Hall, the all-male Catholic high school in Towson, 35 miles from Ellicott City, where he lives with his guardians, Steve and Gail Williams.

Calvert Hall has re-emerged as a basketball power under coach Mark Amatucci and is ranked No. 5 this season. Amatucci could not be reached for comment.

Ngongba, a 6-foot-7, 215-pound center, who is Catholic, indicated that he is leaving Mount Hebron because of unspecified problems.

"I had a lot of conflict with my teammates. I don't want to have conflict with my teammates," said Ngongba, whose beaming smile and gentle demeanor have made him one of the most popular students at Mount Hebron.

Ngongba would not elaborate on his remarks.

His guardians also declined to be specific about the reasons for the sudden move.

"It's just a personal decision," said Gail Williams. "For his well-being we thought it was better to move him to a different situation."

She did say that if the move was not made now, then Calvert Hallwould not accept him in September.

Mount Hebron teammate Kevin Tonkins said: "We had some chemistry problems with guys not getting along this season, but it appeared to me that everyone got along with him [Ngongba]. I guess this is the right move for him. I support him."

Mount Hebron coach Scott Robinson refused to comment on why Ngongba is leaving.

"The teachers, coaches and students at Mount Hebron have put in countless hours well beyond the school day to help prepare him for his next venture," Robinson said. "He's a great kid. I wish him the best."

The Vikings had a 15-8 season and finished third in the county standings at 10-4. Heading into the final three games of the league season, Mount Hebron was tied for first place with Atholton.

For a crucial Feb. 21 game against Oakland Mills, a team that was involved in a three-way race for the county title, Ngongba did not show up to play and the Vikings lost, 72-63.

Robinson told reporters that Ngongba's guardians had called that afternoon and said that Ngongba was sick and unable to play.

Ngongba played in the next game, two days later against eventual county-champion Atholton, a game Mount Hebron also lost, 68-65.

Mount Hebron, ranked among the top 20 most of the season, finished by losing its final four games, including a 77-64 overtime upset to Howard in the first round of the Class 3A East Region playoffs.

Ngongba averaged 17 points and 12 rebounds, with a high of 33 points in a loss to Poly.

Street and Smith's named him an honorable-mention All-American before the season, largely based on his performances during summer AAU competition and at summer camps.

Despite what would constitute a great season for most players, the prevailing attitude among opposing coaches and players was that Ngongba didn't quite live up to his preseason hype -- that his offensive skills are still raw.

"They pumped him up a lot in the paper, but he didn't show me much," said Mark Karcher of St. Frances.

Ngongba sat out most of the first half in foul trouble and scored only 11 points in the 84-60 loss to then-No. 5 St. Frances.

Mount Hebron teammate Kurt Jestes said: "He [Ngongba] developed a lot better during the summer than he did during the season."

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