Trumbo takes charge, sparks Liberty's girls into basketball renaissance

Carroll notebook

January 14, 1998|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,SUN STAFF

A milestone of sorts went practically unnoticed last week when the Liberty girls basketball team won its fourth game of the season.

Under normal circumstances, this would not seem to be a big deal. Liberty is one of four girls' teams in the county to reach that level already this season.

However, "normal circumstances" does not exactly include the Liberty program of recent years. One has to go back to 1992-93 to find a team that won more than three games. In succeeding seasons, the number of wins was 3-2-0-3.

The number of coaches has been about the same, as current leader Dave Trumbo is the Lions' fourth coach in the past four years. A proven winner in volleyball, Trumbo said he believed he could bring stability to the program when he applied for the girls basketball position.

An immediate dividend was the fact team cuts had to be made at every level. The numbers are evident at the lower levels, too. Area recreation programs have youngsters who might eventually feed into the high school, and this winter, for the first time, there are travel teams at every grade level from fifth through eighth.

The current varsity squad of 11 lists two seniors, seven juniors, and two sophomores. The JV team (with one freshman) is 7-1, and the freshman team has lost only one game. In sharp contrast, two years ago there were 13 freshmen on unsuccessful varsity and JV squads.

Encouraging is the word for this year's varsity players (4-7).

As a first-year coach, however, Trumbo is finding himself at a distinct disadvantage simply because he doesn't know much about the opposing teams. It won't necessarily guarantee wins the second time around, but it should mean improved play.

"One thing, the players stuck together through the lean years and now that continuity has been established, I'm really pleased the program has been restored to a healthy level," said Ken Johnson, Liberty athletic director. "I can't tell you how good this makes me feel, because a whole lot of effort by a lot of people has gone into this."

Game officials have been complimentary of the team, too, noting it is a far cry from the past when they dreaded working Liberty games because lopsided games weren't any fun for them either.

Sizing up his preseason situation, Trumbo says, "It wasn't a tough spot. After all, I couldn't hurt anything. The players are good athletes -- six were All-County in either soccer or volleyball -- and they are willing to work. They're used to winning in other sports; we have to get them believing they can be winners in basketball."

This may seem like mission impossible for a group of force-fed seniors and juniors more used to being on the losing end of 20- to 30-point blowouts.

Even with this season's modest success, Monday night's 49-36 home loss to Central Maryland Conference opponent Thomas Johnson had a familiar look to it.

Against TJ, the Lions fell behind 15-2 in the first nine minutes, climbed back to a 28-24 lead midway of the third quarter, then couldn't hit their shots. The visitors went on to include 11-for-16 foul shooting in piling up a 19-6 margin in the closing 10 minutes.

"We played better this time than in Friday's win at South Carroll," Trumbo said. "In the first three minutes we got good shots. We just didn't make any. I don't know, perhaps they're still tentative because they aren't used to winning."

Junior Colleen Cox and sophomore Michelle Allen are the team's top scorers with respective averages of 16.8 and 10.4 points.

One of the force-fed juniors is third-year player Meredith Priddy. At 5-foot-9 she is one of the team's tallest players and at last seems to be starting to assert herself. She has had 10 rebounds in each of the past two games to equal her total for the first nine, and her six points (two baskets, two free throws) against Thomas Johnson were a season high.

Trumbo was quick to point out what he considered a bright spot in the loss to the Frederick County team. "Afterward, my players were upset," the coach said. "It was a game where they made a comeback and had a legitimate chance to win. The result was something they did not like. I'm happy they are upset. Last year, they probably would have blown it off as simply another loss."

Tough trend

The records of the Liberty girls basketball team through the years:

1980-81 -- 7-13

1981-82 -- NA

1982-83 -- 20-3

1983-84 -- 20-3

1984-85 -- 8-13

1985-86 -- 5-15

1986-87 -- 10-12

1987-88 -- 5-15

1988-89 -- 2-20

1989-90 -- NA

1990-91 -- 15-8

1991-92 -- 8-14

1992-93 -- 7-15

1993-94 -- 3-15

1994-95 -- 2-21

1995-96 -- 0-20

1996-97 -- 3-18

Courtesy Bruce Cowan

Quick work

Of Westminster's regular wrestling lineup, all but two have registered a first-period pin, led by heavyweight Clint Walker (6-3), 13 seconds. Kyle Burger (15-1) at 130 pounds is next, 18 seconds against James Miller of Thomas Johnson.

The only ones missing from the one-minute club are Jared Brown (12-7) at 160, 1: 10, and Adam Tenney (8-8) at 103, 3: 24.

Recordwise, Bobby Biden (119) joins Burger at 15-1, followed by Dave Spicer (140) at 14-1.

Western Maryland

Sophomore Charlie Conaway (South Carroll) was the Green Terror's top performer as the wrestling team (9-7) placed fifth in the eight-team Swarthmore Challenge tournament, splitting four dual matches. A 158-pounder, Conaway had four pins to increase his total to eight in a 16-9 season.

Freshman 126-pounder Rodney Stine was 3-1, with two falls and a major decision.

Sophomore Kerry Wilson (North East) met the qualifying standard for the NCAA Division III indoor track and field championships when he reached 18 feet, 4 1/4 inches in winning the long jump at a quadrangular meet at the Naval Academy. Freshman Dana Fraser set a school record when ran 1 minute, 25.69 seconds over 500 meters.

Pub Date: 1/13/98

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