1996-97 All-Arundel County girls basketball

March 18, 1997|By Pat O'Malley and Bill Free

Coach of the Year

Phil Popielski, Meade: His zest for a head coaching position drove Popielski to Meade three years ago and he found himself at a school not known for a lot of girls basketball success. But this season Popielski was "in a state of euphoria" when Meade established the best record in school history (22-4), captured the Anne Arundel County championship and advanced to the Class 4A East Region semifinals. The Mustangs had gone 9-70 in the four years before Popielski's arrival. Popielski said the players weren't used to a regimented basketball system when he got there and practices were often very short. Not exactly the way to challenge traditional powers such as Arundel, Annapolis and Old Mill for county and region championships. "But the girls bought into what I had to sell," said Popielski. "And I got lucky and found a Megan Poehlman [6-foot-4 junior] standing in the hallway her freshman year." Popielski also uncovered a real gem in flashy point guard Angela Creek, who was averaging 30 points in recreation basketball around the Meade area. Creek wasn't eligible to play as a freshman last year but joined the team this season and was little short of sensational. Add vastly improved 6-2 sophomore center Katie Netherton to the mix and Meade pulled off the shocker of the Anne Arundel County high school basketball scene this year, beating eventual Class 4A East Region champion Annapolis, 55-51, in overtime for the Anne Arundel County championship. However, bad luck hit the Mustangs in the 4A East quarterfinals when Creek sprained her ankle in a lopsided win over Calvert and was only 70 percent in a 49-46 loss to Northern-Calvert in the semis. Meade would also lose Netherton with a sprained ankle with 4: 04 left in the regional semifinal setback. "You have to wonder how much better we would have been if we hadn't had a total of five players injured at different times this season," said Popielski.

Player of the Year

Emily Lipton, St. Mary's, guard: This incredibly intense 5-foot-7 sophomore took the powerful Catholic League by storm as a freshman and came back this season to prove she could be a lot better. When Lipton carved up then No. 1 Mercy for 26 points, six steals, five rebounds and three assists in the Catholic League tournament championship game, giving then No. 2 St. Mary's a 58-48 victory, there was no doubt the Crofton youngster was the best player on the best team in the Baltimore metro area. There is no secret to how Lipton has reached such a high level at such a young age. She has virtually dedicated her life to playing college basketball at the highest Division I level, rushing off to the gym every free moment to play against the best competition she can find, boys or girls. "Emily is going to make herself as good as she can be," said her coach Harry Dobson. "When we're doing exercise warm-ups in the gym, Emily even has a basketball in her hands working on her skills." Lipton had a fantastic run through the final four games of the season, scoring a total of 77 points with 23 assists, 20 rebounds and 20 steals to not only carry the 24-4 Saints to the Catholic League tourney title but enabling her team to finish with 11 consecutive victories. Third-ranked Seton Keough, No. 5 Gwynn Lake and St. Frances in addition to Mercy were also cast aside by Lipton and St. Mary's in the season-ending march. Lipton finished the season with averages of 15.5 points, 5.5 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 4.2 steals in addition to being a quiet leader for the team. She earns Player-of-the-Year honors this season after being a first-team All-Anne Arundel County selection last year. Said Dobson: "Emily is ahead right now of two former outstanding players, Bridget Smith and Randell Goldsborough, we had at St. Mary's." The first team

Sherrie Cornish, Severn, guard: A gifted basketball player with enough moves to create excellent scoring opportunities for herself almost every time she touches the ball, Cornish simply carried the Admirals to a 10-13 record without too much help. Wearing Michael Jordan's No. 23 because of her admiration for the Chicago Bull, Cornish often put on Jordan-like shows this season to average 21 points, seven rebounds, five assists and 4.2 steals. It was her third year as a starter for Severn and she is closing in on the all-time school scoring record of 1,060 points held by Monique Jennings. Cornish has 1,035 points and could break the mark in the first game of her senior year. The 5-foot-6 point guard had her finest performance in a Severn uniform in a loss to top-ranked St. Mary's in the Noel Classic last December at Spalding (24 points, 12 rebounds).

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