1997-98 Baltimore City girls basketball previews

December 03, 1997|By Kevin Eck, Katherine Dunn and Rich Scherr

Public schools

Carver Bears

1996-97 record: 3-12

Coach: Cynthia Tyson

Top players: Rhonda Harris, 6-1, Sr., C; Melissa Richardson, 5-10, Jr., F/G; Deidra McFadden, 5-6, Jr., G; Tai Churchill, 5-10, Jr., F.

Outlook: The Bears return four starters, but the emphasis will continue to be on fundamentals. McFadden and Harris are competent players, and Harris has sparked interest from some Division I schools because of her size. Had Carver not lost shooting guard Barnetta Berkley (transfer to Northwestern), the Bears may have had a realistic shot at nearing the .500 mark. Without her, bettering last season's record may be a tall order.

City Knights

1996-97 record: 13-9

Coach: George Petrides

Top players: Rolynda Contee, 5-11, Sr., C; Candice Johnson, 5-10, Sr., G; Anne Phillips, 5-10, Jr., F; Jessica Shipley, 5-6, Soph., G.

Outlook: Like last season, the Knights aren't expected to be one of the league powers, but they should win their share. City, which is coming off consecutive 13-victory seasons, returns three starters, led by Contee (19 ppg) and Johnson (18 ppg). The Knights have a solid inside game and Johnson is consistent from outside, but a lack of depth could hurt.

Douglass Ducks

1996-97 record: 2-8

Coach: Mary Hughee

Top players: Angel Frazier, 5-9, Sr., C; Renalda Owens, 6-2, Jr., F/C; Antoinette Doughty, 5-4, Sr., G, Sophia Wilks, 5-5, Jr., F; Latasha Bowie, 5-4, Soph., G.

Outlook: The Ducks are again in a rebuilding mode. Douglass lost five players, including two starters, but it does have a few experienced players. Hughee said she is hoping for a .500 record, and that would be a major accomplishment for a program that has just eight victories over the past three seasons.

Dunbar Poets

1996-97 record: 8-11

Coach: Wardell Selby

Top players: Latoya Peace, 5-7, Sr., G/F; Constance Simms, 4-11, Jr., G; Lakesha Wills, 5-11, Soph., C; Latarsha Shackleford, 5-6, Sr., F.

Outlook: The Poets, 2-14 in 1995-96, took a baby step last season toward second-year coach Selby's ultimate goals of replacing Western as the top city public school team and raising the Dunbar girls program to the level of the Poets' boys. This season, Selby said he expects nothing less than a winning season. Three starters return, and freshman guard Tierra Little could be an impact player. The Poets could be a team to keep an eye on.

Edmondson Redskins

1996-97 record: 11-5

Coach: Elise Collier

Top players: Connie McCullough, 5-5, Soph., F; Karen Kennedy, 5-0, Jr., G; Chantey Yates, 5-5, Sr., G.

Outlook: The Redskins have four starters back among nine returnees and should be one of the best teams in the Baltimore City West League. Collier said she is stressing defense, and believes the team will be more aggressive than it has in years past. The Redskins also have more depth and speed.

Forest Park Foresters

1996-97 record: 6-9

Coach: Darrin Baker

Top players: Fraya Pagan, 5-6, Sr., F/G; Tangier Floyd, 5-5, Jr., G; Moniesha Stanton, 5-8, Soph., F.

Outlook: The Foresters made strides in their first season under Baker after winning just three games in 1995-96. Forest Park lacks height, but does possess quickness. The Foresters also have freshman Tiffany Stanley, a point guard whom Baker refers to as "an exciting player." The key for Forest Park is how well it executes its transition game.

Lake Clifton Lakers

1996-97 record: 10-6

Coach: James Monroe

Top players: Tyeasha Smith, 5-5, Soph., G/F; Danielle Alexander, 5-7, Jr., F; Sharon Bailey, 5-10, Jr., C; Shekona Lewis, 5-5, Jr., G; Sheneka Lewis, 5-5, Jr. G.

Outlook: The Lakers have all but one player back and Monroe believes his team is jelling after playing together over the summer. Without a strong inside game, Monroe said he may use a five-guard offense at times to maximize the strengths of the team -- quickness and defense. While another winning season seems attainable, the Lakers aren't yet ready to resume a position among the metro area's elite.

Mervo Mustangs

1996-97 record: 9-7

Coach: Nancy Havranek

Top players: Renata White, 5-3, Sr., G; Sharlytta Robbins, 5-5, Sr., G/F.

Outlook: The Mustangs are starting over after graduating four starters. Havranek said she may carry as many as six freshmen on the roster, three of whom probably will start. Mervo was in a similar situation last season and responded with a winning record, so the Mustangs shouldn't be completely discounted.

Northern Vikings

1996-97 record: 1-16

Coach: William Dockery

Top players: Chavellia Crenshaw, 5-10, Sr., F/C

Outlook: After last season, which included a 105-2 loss to Western and six players quitting, it seems the Vikings have nowhere to go but up. So far, that isn't the case. Dockery, beginning his second season, said as few as two players have shown up for practice, increasing the possibility that Northern may not have enough players to field a team.

Northwestern Wildcats

1996-97 record: 20-5

Coach: Wayne Jackson

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