1996-97 All-Baltimore City-County boys basketball

March 18, 1997|By Derek Toney and Kevin Eck

Coach of the Year

Terry Leverett, Southwestern: In a city where much basketball success has been concentrated in East Baltimore, Leverett guided the West Baltimore school to a 27-0 record, the Class 4A state championship, and its first No. 1 ranking. With no player bigger than 6-foot-4 senior forward Bobby Gray, Southwestern did not have the most talent, but the Sabers compensated with hustle and determination. The Sabers' motto: "Refuse to lose." Always intense and animated on the sidelines, Leverett was able to put together a team that was greater than its individual parts. No matter how big or small, each Saber came up with a contribution. In its second game of the season, Southwestern defeated Lake Clifton, then ranked nationally by USA Today. In January, the Sabers handed Dunbar its first home defeat since 1988. The Sabers defeated the Lakers for the City championship, then again a week later to win the North region championship and its first trip to the state semifinals. At the University of Maryland last weekend, Southwestern defeated Paint Branch of Montgomery County and Parkdale of Prince George's County in overtime for the state title, 81-75, to complete a perfect season. The Sabers join Dunbar (1991-92), Dunbar (1982-83) and Calvert Hall (1981-82) as unbeaten No. 1 teams in the area over the last 15 years. Those three teams each were mythical national champions in those seasons. In six seasons at Southwestern, Leverett, 45, has compiled a 108-33 record.

Player of the Year

Mark Karcher, St. Frances: When Karcher's high school career concludes this weekend at the Alhambra Catholic Invitational Tournament at Frostburg State, he will go down as one of the best to play in Baltimore. After becoming the first underclassman in over a decade to be named The Sun's All-Metro Player of the Year, Karcher repeated that honor and has been one of the country's best players this season. The 6-foot-5 senior swingman is averaging an area-best 28.7 points a game, 8.8 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 3.4 steals for the No. 2-ranked Panthers, who won their third consecutive Catholic League regular-season and tournament championships. Karcher, a four-time All-Catholic League selection was the league's Player of the Year for the third straight season as well as the MVP of the postseason tournament. A Super 25 player by USA Today, Karcher has played and excelled in every position on the floor in his four seasons. He can score from any spot on the court, but his passing and the ability to make the right play set him apart. At the First National Bank Charm City Classic in January, Karcher scored a game-high 35 points, including a three-pointer (his seventh of the game) at the buzzer to send St. Frances past St. John's Prospect Hall of Frederick, 75-74, then ranked No. 1 in the country by the Associated Press. He was co-MVP of the Northwest bracket, along with Tracey McGrady of Mt. Zion (N.C.) Academy, a probable NBA first-round draft pick. A preseason second-team All-American by Street & Smith's, Karcher has been selected to play in the McDonald's All-American game at Colorado Springs, Colo., and the Magic Johnson Roundball Classic in Auburn Hills, Mich. In four seasons, Karcher has guided St. Frances to a 97-23 record, four Catholic League Tournament title game appearance, The Sun's No. 1 ranking and a No. 14 national rank by USA Today last season. Karcher, who hasn't met the necessary requirements for freshman eligibility, has narrowed his choices to Georgia Tech, Maryland, Rutgers, Seton Hall and Villanova.

The first team

Demon Brown, Randallstown: The best player in Baltimore County, Brown, who transferred from Douglass where he didn't play basketball), made an immediate impact on the Rams. The 6-foot-1 point guard averaged 22.5 points, 6.2 assists and 3.1 steals, leading Randallstown to the Class 3A state semifinals. In the semifinals against Thomas Johnson and Maryland-bound Terence Morris, Brown scored 24 points. Flashy at times, Brown's quickness allowed him to score or create scoring opportunities. A consensus All-County pick, Brown -- who scored a season-high 40 points against Perry Hall -- was an all-tournament pick at the Wes Unseld Tournament.

Juan Dixon, Calvert Hall: Dixon is arguably the best shooter in the area. The wiry 6-foot-2 guard averaged 23.4 points and 4.5 rebounds, leading the Cardinals to the Catholic League Tournament finals, where they lost to St. Frances for the third straight year. When he's on, Dixon can take over a game, but he also displayed improvement on defense this season. Dixon, who scored a career-high 47 points against D.C. champion Anacostia, was selected to the Catholic League All-Tournament team as well as being a first-team All-Catholic League pick. A repeat first-team All-City/County pick and a first-team All-Metro last season, Dixon has signed to play for the University of Maryland next season.

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