All-Baltimore City-County girls basketball

March 18, 1997|By Derek Toney and Kevin Eck

Coach of the Year

Jim Stromberg, Seton Keough: Despite graduating a pair of All-Metro players (Meghann Donovan and Melanie Morris) who accounted for about half of the team's offense and the lack of a consistent scorer, the Gators remained one of the top teams in the area. In fact, Seton Keough spent seven weeks of the season in the same position it was for most of last season -- ranked No. 1 in The Sun's Top 20 poll. The third-ranked Gators (22-6), who did not have any players averaging in double figures in scoring, shared the Catholic League regular-season title with Mercy and went 6-3 against Top 10 teams. Stromberg compiled a 49-8 record in his first two years at Seton Keough, but this season he proved that it is the quality of his system, not necessarily the individual talent of his players, that made the program a winning one. Although Seton Keough had less-heralded players this season, Stromberg's formula for success remained the same: playing smothering man-to-man defense and making good decisions in a motion offense. "Basketball is a really simple game. It's about putting the ball in the basket and guarding people," Stromberg said. "To make it more complicated clouds it." He said he developed much of his coaching philosophy from Centennial coach Dave Greenberg. Stromberg served as an assistant coach for 14 years at Mount Hebron under Greenberg, who won a record six state titles with varying levels of talent. "He impressed me with how he related to people and got them to do things they didn't know they could do," Stromberg said. "That's what we're doing at Seton Keough." For Stromberg, winning starts with intense practices. "We make sure practice is harder than the game itself," he said. "You may not be the quickest or the tallest team, but it's been proven that you can outwork people."

Player of the Year

Jamie Vogtman, Mercy: After an impressive debut last year, Vogtman took her game to another level this season. She emerged as one of the area's top inside players, averaging team-highs of 14.5 points and 8.7 rebounds to lead the second-ranked Magic (25-3) to a tie for first place in the tough Catholic League. Vogtman, who had averaged 10.7 points and 11.2 rebounds per game as a freshman, added a variety of post moves to her repertoire and improved her defensive skills. A 5-11 left-hander, she became more adept at going to her right and increased her range from outside, routinely hitting the 15-foot jumper. Her contributions were especially critical early in the season when the Magic's outside shooters were struggling. And when Mercy took on the other top teams in the Catholic League, Vogtman always rose to the occasion. "In all of our big games, she is not someone that hid," Mercy coach Mary Ella Marion said. "She was there consistently." Consistency was Vogtman's trademark -- she never had an unproductive game. If her scoring went down, she would compensate with her rebounding. In a 52-45 win over John Carroll, for example, Vogtman scored only 11 but grabbed 22 rebounds. Perhaps equally as important, Vogtman's attitude was steady, as well, and she became a quiet leader. "Her emotions were always very even -- she never got too high or too low -- and that was a source of strength for the team," Marion said. "There's never a difference in her effort during the game, either. She plays the last couple of minutes the same as the first couple of minutes." In her best performance, Vogtman scored 24 points with 13 rebounds, five blocks and three steals in a 53-48 win over a good Bullis Prep (D.C.) team when the Magic was without point guard Shannon Cohen, who was serving a two-game suspension. "Bullis is a strong, physical team, but she played every minute of that game and she really stepped up," Marion said.

The first team

Jimea Barner, Gwynn Lake: The fifth-ranked Lakers made an immediate impact in their first year and Barner was one of the main reasons. The 5-6 point guard led the team in scoring (21.3) and assists (11.3) and also averaged 5.6 rebounds. Possessing a quick first step, Barner was able to blow by defenders and penetrate. She also passed well and was a constant threat to hit the three-pointer. On a team devoid of any juniors or seniors, Barner was clearly the leader. She made sure everyone was in position and she always wanted the ball in her hands in clutch situations. In a memorable 52-50 win over Hammond, Barner dribbled past four defenders, drove along the baseline, and made the game-winning layup as time expired.

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