1996 All-Arundel County girls basketball

March 14, 1996

Player of the Year

Chavonne Hammond, Arundel: If ever a gifted player saved her best for a dramatic ending to her high school career, it was Hammond with her two-game show against Largo and Sherwood last weekend in the state 4A girls championship tournament at UMBC.

High school coaches rarely say that one player beat them, but Largo coach Robert Blair emphasized that his Lions lost to Arundel, 68-64, in the 4A semifinals for one reason and that was Hammond.

Against Largo, Hammond scored 25 points and also had 22 rebounds, 12 blocks, six assists and five steals in playing all 32 minutes.

The 6-foot Hammond came back in the championship game against a physical Sherwood team and played every minute again like it might be her last on a basketball court.

Despite being double- and triple-teamed inside, Hammond scored 15 points and had 12 rebounds, eight blocks and three assists.

Hammond's presence on the floor opened up the outside game so much for Arundel that coach Lee Rogers inserted top shooter Kara Kitchen into the game and Kitchen responded with 10 points to help turn back Sherwood, 57-49, and bring the first girls state title to Arundel in the 24-year history of the state tournament.

Arundel finished with a 27-2 record.

Hammond, who will continue her basketball career on a full scholarship at Vanderbilt, played both of those games and most of her senior season with a brace on her knee to protect torn cartilage. The original plans were to scope the knee at the end of the season, but Rogers said that Hammond played so well with the brace and had so little discomfort that she is having second thoughts about the surgery.

Another notable aspect of Hammond's season was the fact that she averaged 17 points even though the team's offensive philosophy was never centered around her or any one player. She also averaged 11.3 rebounds, 4.5 blocks, 4.4 steals and 2.8 assists a game.

Co-Coach of the Year

Harry Dobson, St. Mary's: It took some courage and a lot of confidence in freshmen girls basketball players for Dobson to come in this season and immediately make three of them Emily Lipton, Maria Smear and Terri Daniels such an important part of a team that was out to replace Seton Keough as champions of a tough Catholic League.

Lipton quickly won a starting guard position, Smear played well enough all season to start but was used as the first player off the bench, and Daniels met every challenge she faced in tough game situations for the Saints, who won a remarkable 24 straight games before losing to nationally-ranked Archbishop Carroll of Philadelphia.

Dobson took on virtually all comers this season, including a treacherous 13-game schedule in December when his freshmen were still very green, but the Saints almost always won and wound up 27-2 before going to the Bishop Walsh Invitational last weekend for "some rest and relaxation" and losing two of three games to finish 28-4.

Dobson said his team had already accomplished almost all of its goals before the Bishop Walsh tournament, having beaten Seton Keough twice in the regular season by a total of 23 points to win the Catholic League title with a 14-0 record.

The Gators did come back to defeat St. Mary's by 15 points in the Catholic League tournament championship game, but Dobson didn't seem crushed by the loss. It was almost as if he were saying "Wait till next year and the year after that and the year after that."

With the three irrepressible freshmen back for three more seasons and junior starters Heidi Moldenhauer and Nicole Foran returning next season, Dobson will be playing with a stacked deck.

Add that deck to an ability to communicate with his players, teach full-court pressure defense and attract top-flight AAU players to St. Mary's, and Dobson just might turn the Saints into a nationally-ranked team in the near future.

Co-Coach of the Year

Lee Rogers, Arundel: It wasn't easy being Lee Rogers this season. He had to win the state Class 4A girls championship or else his season would have been considered a failure.

That feat was something no other Arundel girls team had ever accomplished in the history of the school. But Rogers had all players returning from last season's 25-1 team that finished second to Western in the 4A finals.

The pressure was intense for the Wildcats to get the job done no matter what adversity he faced.

Sure enough, the road to last Saturday's 57-49 victory over Sherwood in the state 4A championship game was bumpy from the start. First, he made a decision to bench last year's starting point guard Kara Kitchen, a senior, and go with sophomore Sherice Proctor.

Then, the team's second-most productive player, Jen Mottar, went down with an open dislocation of her left index finger, missed three games and was bothered for several more games by the finger.

Rogers faced criticism for running up the score on some opponents and not centering his offense around Vanderbilt-bound Chavonne Hammond.

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