1996 All-Baltimore City/County boys basketball

March 15, 1996

Co-Player of the Year

Mark Karcher, St. Frances, junior, forward: Karcher has lived up to all the lofty expectations placed on him. The two-time Catholic League Player of the Year averaged 24.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and 6.6 assists in leading the Panthers to the area's No. 1 ranking. After playing center his first two seasons, Karcher was moved to the wing, where his tremendous passing skills and improved shooting range was put on display. But his outstanding court savvy is probably Karcher's greatest asset. Considered one of the top 20 juniors in the country, Karcher was named MVP of the Catholic League Tournament for the second straight year and was named to the league's 25th anniversary team. Karcher will be on an all-star team representing the United States that will compete against 17 other countries at the Albert Schweitzer Tournament in Mannheim, Germany, later this month.

Co-Player of the Year

Tommy Polley, Dunbar, senior, forward: At Dunbar, expectations weren't as high as usual, with Polley being the lone returning starter from last season's team. The Poets suffered more losses (six) this season than the previous two (four), but with Polley carrying the leadership and scoring role, Dunbar won the Baltimore City title and its fourth consecutive state championship. Polley averaged 20.4 points, 10.7 rebounds and 8.1 assists for the Poets, earning his second straight first-team selection to the All-City/County and All-Metro teams. The 6-foot-5 forward brought the same tenacity he had on the football field, where he won the Sun's Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight year, to the court. Polley typified the Poets' gritty and hard-working style. One of the top recruits for Florida State's stellar incoming football class, Polley also plans to play basketball for the Seminoles.

Co-Coach of the Year

Paul Smith, Dunbar: In his first two seasons, Smith had teams that dominated opponents with speed and size. This season, Dunbar didn't have nearly the talent of those teams, but Smith found a winning chemistry and earned his third consecutive state championship. With only one returning starter in Tommy Polley and an inexperienced cast that included a freshman (Tim Lyles) starting at point guard, Smith got off a tough start (4-4 by mid-January), but he got the Poets to play as a team. Dunbar, which won 17 of its final 19 games, defeated Lake Clifton and Southern-B, ranked No. 1 in the area at the time, to win the city's East League title. The Poets defeated Southwestern for city championship, avenging a loss earlier in the season. One of seven active coaches with 300 or more victories, Smith has a 329-169 record in 22 seasons, 69-10 in three seasons at Dunbar.

Co-Coach of the Year

William Wells, St. Frances: In the shadow of traditional East Baltimore powers Dunbar and Lake Clifton, Wells guided St. Frances to its first No. 1 ranking and second straight Catholic League regular-season and tournament championship. St. Frances, a small predominantly black school located on East Chase Street, has had a varsity team for only seven seasons and doesn't have an on-site gym. The Panthers play their home games at the University of Baltimore and practices at a nearby elementary school. Nonetheless, St. Frances' patient half-court game wore down opponents with excellent passing and strong transition. St. Frances, which is playing at the Alhambra Catholic Tournament at Frostburg State, won the Southeast bracket title at the First National Bank Charm City Classic and was runner-up at the Gonzaga (D.C.) Tournament and McDonald's Classic in Erie, Pa. In nine seasons, Wells has a record of 198-80.

The first team

Josh Davalli, Gibbons, senior, forward: Spending his first three seasons mainly on the perimeter, Davalli, 6 feet 6, developed into one of the area's top swing forwards. Davalli led the Crusaders in scoring (20.6 ppg) and rebounding (10.2 rpg.), and was an All-Catholic League pick for the second straight season as well as an all-tournament selection. Davalli was more aggressive taking the ball to the basket than in his previous seasons, but still possesses one of the area's best shooting touches. Carrying a 3.6 GPA and a member of the National Honor Society, Davalli is being recruited by Army, Bucknell, Dayton, Maryland, Navy, Penn State, Towson State and UMBC.

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