Yelling and crying help Annapolis make final 4 Their emotional coach and point guard spark surprising Panthers

Girls basketball

March 13, 1997|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

The coach, Dave Griffith, is a stern 43-year-old retired policeman who has survived 11 knee operations and one heart attack.

The point guard, Kerry Miller, is an emotional junior who can be on the bench in tears one minute and dribbling through five players for a layup a few minutes later.

The center, Jackie Edwards, is a gifted 6-foot-2 junior athlete who just might make it big at a major Division I college some day.

The power forward, Kammi Cottrell, is a quiet 6-1 junior who sometimes makes the game look surprisingly easy.

The shooting guard, senior Kristen Kapusta, extracts every ounce of ability out of her 5-foot-7 frame every time she steps on the court.

The third guard, tiny 5-2 senior Dina Brown, uses her quickness and defensive desire to start on one of the best teams in the state.

Ladies and gentlemen, there are your Class 4A East champion Annapolis Panthers.

It's a team very few people expected to be in the fast company of Largo in today's 3 p.m. girls Class 4A state semifinals at UMBC.

But that was before Miller came off the bench to take over at point guard and the Panthers discovered how to beat Arundel's renowned full-court pressure defense.

"Once Kerry clicked for us at point guard, it made everything easier for me," said Griffith. "She's my kind of player. She's a tough, gutsy player who is all over the floor. She will be one of the best guards in the county next year."

But what about the tears, prompted by Griffith's yelling at her?

"Kerry knew what she was getting into when she came here from North County this year," said Griffith. "She knew about my discipline and style of coaching. She can take it [yelling]. She has heart and loves the game. I get on her for mental things. Physically, she can play this game very well."

According to Griffith, the tears are a "release valve" for Miller.

"People deal with pressure in different ways," he said. "For Kerry, it's the tears, and then she calms down and is fine."

Miller agrees.

"The coach brings me back by hollering at me," said Miller after a vintage tears-stardom performance in a 56-41 victory over Arundel in the Class 4A semifinals last week. "It used to get on my nerves, but now I don't let it bother me. I'm used to it."

Miller scored 11 points, had six rebounds and three assists to help oust the defending state Class 4A champion Wildcats from this year's tournament.

Edwards, in her third season as a starter for Griffith, has long since learned how to deal with the volatile coach.

"I don't even look at him when I come off the floor after missing some easy shots," said Edwards, who averages 17.3 points, 16.2 rebounds, 2.5 steals and blocks and two assists. "I know he's shaking his head in disbelief."

However, Edwards and Griffith both say they have a great player-coach relationship.

It was Edwards who joined Cottrell last Saturday night in a planned ice-water dunking of Griffith after Annapolis had defeated Northern-Calvert, 64-48, to win the 4A East.

The two players were told they couldn't douse the coach on the Annapolis floor, so they waited for a sneak attack on Griffith in the locker room.

Griffith loved every minute of it and took part briefly in the traditional cutting-down-of-the-nets ceremony after the game.

"At the start of the year I thought we were too soft as a team," said Griffith. "Having been to the states before [three years ago with Annapolis], I realized that if you don't take the game to opponents, you won't make it to the states. We've prepared these girls to be tough. That way, win or lose, just like in life, they'll be able to handle it."

The Panthers (23-4) have won 18 of their last 19 games, losing only the Anne Arundel County championship game in overtime to Meade since a Dec. 30 loss to unbeaten Linganore.

In addition to the five starters, Annapolis has been helped immensely by standout efforts from junior guard Kia Green and junior center Emily Dammeyer this season. Other members of the Panthers are Jen Patrick, Kim Raspa, Amy Deans, Lauren Gulotta and Jessie White.

Pub Date: 3/13/97

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