Panthers stalk a higher goal this season Basketball: Tall and experienced, Annapolis team sets a goal of going farther than regional playoffs last season's team reached.

December 04, 1997|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

Annapolis senior point guard Kerry Miller wastes little time in summing up her team's goal for the season.

"We want to get back to where we were and go a little farther," she said.

Where the junior-laden Panthers were last season was the Class 4A state semifinals. "A little farther" a year later is the state final.

Then you look at the starting front line.

It starts with Jackie Edwards, a 6-2 center who was named to Street & Smith's preseason All-America team. Next to her is Kammi Cottrell, a 6-1 standout of her own who averaged 14 points and 13 rebounds a game last year.

The picture is complete with 6-3 Emily Dammeyer healthy and ready to go this season. All three are seniors who have played together on varsity since their freshmen year.

A number of teams have one post player at least 6 feet tall. Some -- very fortunate -- have two. But three?

"No other team has three big girls," said Cottrell. "It's a lot of fun. We know what each other are going to do and can play off each other."

And while everyone is busy taking notice of the Panthers' impressive front court, their guards -- Miller and Kia Green -- quietly go about their business and make more good things happen.

"Everyone who knows us talks about our low-post players, but we can't do it without our guards. Teams have trouble guarding them, also. They're very quick," said Edwards.

The final piece of the puzzle comes with a deep bench.

"This is probably the best all-around talent I've ever had," said Annapolis coach Dave Griffith. "Low post or guards, back and forth, and there's a good mixture of seniors with young talent."

The Panthers went 23-3 last season in reaching the state semifinals where they were eliminated by Largo. They plan on relying on that experience to push them over the top this year. They know it won't be easy.

"We got there with hard work, and it made us hungrier this year," Miller said. "Now we know what it takes, and we're pushing ourselves even harder."

Added Edwards, who averaged 17.3 points and 16.2 rebounds to earn first-team All-Metro status last year: "We've had good teams in past years, but this year's the best. The seniors are close and the new people coming in have fit right in."

One of the important keys at the start this season is that everyone is healthy, particularly Dammeyer, who missed the first half of last season with a knee injury. Griffith said her presence will make life easier for Edwards and Cottrell with teams unable ++ to concentrate solely on them.

"At this point, I'm happy to be playing," said Dammeyer, who has been bothered by injuries throughout her career. "What helps is we're all close on and off the court. All the hard work is definitely rewarding, and getting to states last year, we know what it's like. We have high hopes we can put it all together."

Plenty of tests will come from inside the county, with Meade matching up with Annapolis as well as anyone, and Arundel always tough.

"We've got to show up and play, work as hard as we have in the past," said Griffith, who has guided the Panthers to two state semifinal appearances in the last four years. "The opportunity is there."

A special night

With all the talented teams throughout the county this season, week after week, a spectator is almost guaranteed to find a good basketball game on the schedule.

But here's a date to definitely mark on those new 1998 calendars -- Jan. 24.

No. 1 St. Mary's, led by Metro Player of the Year Emily Lipton, travels to Annapolis to take on the Panthers at 7 p.m.

"We scheduled it on a Saturday for the whole county to see," said Annapolis coach Dave Griffith.

Pub Date: 12/04/97

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