Coach of the Year
Ciaran Lesikar, Glenelg: After seven seasons coaching the boys junior varsity at Oakland Mills, Lesikar was ready for a varsity team. He took the Glenelg position -- his first try coaching girls basketball -- knowning he didn't have a lot talent to work with. "I really didn't care," Lesikar. "I wasn't looking to go to a school that had a lot of natural talent. I believed I knew basketball enough that I could teach it." Lesikar, a special education teacher at Mount View Middle, and his assistants Chad Meushaw and Lance DeGrazia, got the most from his players. The Gladiators finished 9-9 in the league (tied for fifth place) and were 13-12 overall, losing in overtime to Hammond in the Class 2A South region semifinal. The season began with a player quitting during the first practice. It left Lesikar with seven players, including co-captains Camey Brian and Lauren Brown, the only returning players with starting experience. He brought a few players up from junior varsity, got a transfer (Kris Brust) from Seton Keough and made the Gladiators a team. Brian, whose game improved tremendously under Lesikar, had her doubts before the season. "I didn't think we'd be that strong," Brian said. "We were inexperienced. He didn't have much to work with. But he built the team up and made us competitive. I think we were the surprise team of the league." Lesikar, a two-year starter at Centennial before graduating in 1984, got the team to believe in itself. "He gave us confidence," Brian said. "He had confidence in us and he never gave up." Lesikar said the year "ended up being better than I hoped. I couldn't imagine going back to coaching boys right now. I'm having so much fun coaching girls." Lesikar praised the leadership of Brown and Brian, adding that he "was lucky to come in with such a good group of kids. I think we really had fun this year, win or lose. I think they got a lot out of it. I hope they did. I know I did."
Player of the Year
Rene Hines, Hammond, Sr., F: "She's probably the most complete player we've had," said Hammond coach Joe Russo, who has coached some outstanding players, among them Tiki Nicholson, Kacy Williams, Kelly Townsend, Tameka Harrison and Sonia Keiner. A four-year starter, Hines led the Golden Bears (21-5) in points (18.1), assists (6.3) and steals (3.7) and blocked shots (2.5). She was second in rebounds (10.1). "She had a good year. She carried us," Russo said. Hines, who earned a scholarship from Georgia State University in Atlanta, became the first junior at Hammond to go over 1,000 points, and this season became the all-time leading scorer (1,518), surpassing Tiki Nicholson (1,230). She broke her own three-point school record this season by three, making 35. For her career, Hines is second in rebounding (1,054), third in assists (283), third in scoring average (15.9), first in field-goal percentage in a season (62), and sixth-best in free-throw percentage (75). Hines was a threat to score from anywhere on the court. She could hit a three-pointer one moment, then battle for and score off an offensive rebound the next. In her first two seasons, Hines was more of a role player. But she became Hammond's go-to player the last two years. She won three games last year with last-second shots, and this season made crucial fourth-quarter baskets and free throws that helped the Golden Bears to victory. Hines played in the Class 2A state championship game her first three seasons. This season ended with a disappointment as she injured her right knee in the second quarter of the South region final against Wilde Lake.
The first team
Chanelle Carter, Howard, Sr., F: "The program owes her a lot. No doubt about it," said Howard coach Craig O'Connell about Carter, a repeat first-team selection. Carter became the school's all-time leading scorer during the Lions' loss to Wilde Lake in the Class 2A South region semifinals. She finished with 1,422 points, topping the mark of 1,412 set by 1995 graduate Mona Jackson. Carter, who signed early to attend Delaware State, averaged 22.2 points and 8.4 rebounds this season. In her four-year varsity career, the Lions won a state title, lost in the region final, lost in the state semifinals and lost in the region semifinals. O'Connell said Carter brought "stability" to the program. "She came into the building as a basketball player. She came in with confidence, knowing the game. I knew I could depend on her." She was the only player in the county to lead her team in scoring every game. Even though teams geared their defense to stop her, they couldn't. Carter, who scores mostly from 12 feet and beyond, had five games of 30 points or more. "For her to still score as many points as she did, I was pretty amazed by that," O'Connell said. Carter averaged 16.3 points and 7.5 rebounds over her career.