1996 All-Carroll County girls basketball

March 14, 1996

Player of the year

Kathleen Tunney, North Carroll: Before the start of the season, North Carroll coach Greg Knill admits he had no idea what was going to happen. He had a handful of inexperienced players up from the junior varsity, no proven inside scorers, questionable depth and one senior Tunney.

"I talked to her a lot about having to bring up the younger players and that I wasn't going to be able to do everything needed myself. I asked her to help," Knill said. "It was like having a very reliable coach out there and I couldn't imagine how low we could have gone without her."

Tunney was more than a coach on the floor, tying a school record with 400 points and leading the Panthers to a 9-15 record after they won just five games the year before with a more veteran cast. She finished the season averaging a county-high 16.5 points a game, 7.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and two steals. What impressed Knill most was how she made the players around her better.

"I told her she needed to remember she was dealing with young players and she had to show them in a positive way what they needed to do and she did that. She was such an effective leader," Knill said. "She celebrated the success of her teammates more than themselves. They would do something right and she'd have a fist in the air pointing towards them saying 'Yeah, that's the way it needs to be done.' "

Coach of the year

Alice Smith, Francis Scott Key: When Smith took over the varsity program two seasons ago, inheriting a 3-16 team, she made a complete commitment to youth. A season later, the benefits are showing and things are looking even brighter for the Eagles next season.

After a 7-15 record last season, Smith and her Eagles improved to 14-10 this season with a 10-8 record in the Monocacy Valley Athletic League and a 3-0 mark in the county.

"I'm really happy we were over .500 in the MVAL. That's strong competition and we were right there with all of them, staying close against the strongest MVAL teams, Middletown and Brunswick," Smith said.

Strong team defense, a balanced attack offensively and a bench that went eight deep was what Smith counted on this season.

Among the returnees expected back next season are first-team all-county guard Nicole Keffer and second-team forwards Cindy Sheedy and Stephanie Stambaugh. Smith was the junior varsity coach when all three came up as freshmen.

"What's most rewarding is seeing how they've grown so much from when they were freshmen back then to now," Smith said.

The first team

Shannan Henley, South Carroll: A transfer from Prospect Hall in Frederick, Henley proved to be the complete player everyone at South Carroll anticipated her to be going into the season. She often ran the offense, was the Cavaliers' top three-point threat, created turnovers with strong defense and even did some rebounding. Coach Al Skierski said about the only weakness Henley had was her unselfishness.

"In terms of being able to to do everything, she's one of the girls at South Carroll who comes close since I've been here," said the fourth-year coach.

Henley finished the season averaging 13.2 points a game and 5.2 rebounds.

Jill Ibex, Westminster: At 6 feet tall, Ibex possesses all the abilities of a point guard with the ability to also take care of business inside. It wasn't uncommon this season to see Ibex grab a defensive rebound and carry the ball up the court.

She's more at home down low, where offensively she has a number of post moves and good range, and defensively she can block shots and rebound. She finished the season averaging 14 points and 11 rebounds a game with 90 blocked shots. She also added 49 assists and 38 steals.

"Defensively, she really picked up her game. There weren't too many players who could go inside against her," said Westminster coach Bernie Koontz. "Offensively, she's a well-rounded player. If you take her post game away, she can step outside."

Nicole Keffer, Francis Scott Key: The junior guard provided a little bit of everything for the Eagles this season. Coach Alice Smith knew all about Keffer's offensive abilities from years past, but challenged her to work on her defensive game and become the team leader with the graduation of Maureen Ritcey last year.

Keffer was up to the task, finishing the year averaging 12.3 points a game.

"She stepped up in all categories and became a well-rounded player," Smith said. "When she first came in, offense was the only part of her ballgame. I asked her to step it up defensively and she's really progressed. Offensively, Nicole is very smart at being able to read defenses and making things happen. We knew when she came in right behind Maureen she would be our leader and she has handled the pressure well."

Ce Wagener, South Carroll: The 6-foot junior in her third year on varsity was asked to take control in the middle this season and she responded by averaging 10.6 points and 7.4 rebounds per game for the Cavaliers.

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