1997-98 All Baltimore City/County girls basketball

March 17, 1998|By DEREK TONEY AND KEVIN ECK

Player of the Year

Vicki Brick, McDonogh, Jr., G: Tennis' loss was definitely McDonogh's gain. Brick had announced last season that she was giving up basketball to concentrate on tennis, but she changed her mind and returned to the Eagles. Focused solely on basketball, the 5-foot-6 junior guard, already a two-time All-Metro selection, elevated her game to an even higher level and she took her team along with her. Brick led McDonogh to its first No. 1 ranking and its third consecutive Association of Independent Schools A Division championship. She was clearly the dominant player on the area's dominant team -- McDonogh went 8-0 vs. ranked teams, winning by an average margin of nearly 20 points, including two 15-point victories over No. 2 Roland Park and a 16-point win over then-No. 3 St. Mary's. Brick, named Miss Maryland Basketball for underclassmen by the Maryland Women's Basketball Coaches Association, led McDonogh in scoring (20.4), assists (3.8) and steals (5.1) and also grabbed 4.3 rebounds per game. She scored in double figures in every game this season, getting most of her points on layups. "She can drive past anyone," McDonogh coach Katie Keating said. She also can hit from outside when she chooses and she is a tenacious defender. Brick capped off a brilliant season with 32-point performance in the AIS A Division title game against Roland Park. In that contest, she was 13-for-16 from the field, bursting past Reds defenders for one layup after another with her blistering first step. She preceded that game by scoring 36 points with 10 steals in a semifinal win over Friends.

Coach of the Year

Scott Buckley, Roland Park: At a school known for its superiority in field hockey and lacrosse, Roland Park had quite a ways to go in basketball. That was before Buckley arrived prior the start of the 1996-97 season. He took a Reds team coming off a sub-.500 season and led it to a 21-3 record, cracking The Sun's Top 20 poll. Buckley challenged his team with a much more demanding schedule this season, and Roland Park responded by winning 22 of 26 games and finishing the season as the area's second-ranked team. Among the Reds' conquests were victories over Bladensburg's Elizabeth Seton -- then the top-ranked team in the state -- and Catholic League regular-season champion St. Mary's. Roland Park's only two losses to area opponents were both to top-ranked McDonogh. "We're a little ahead of where I thought we'd be at this point," he said. "But it's where I wanted to be." With several talented players on his roster, including All-City/County guards Betsy Gaines and Meghan Kelly and freshman standout Kelsey Twist, Buckley said the players just ,, needed to be pushed. His recipe for success was simple: play an up-tempo style and smothering, full-court man-to-man pressure defense for 32 minutes. "Our intensity level was tremendous," he said. "We battled for every loose ball on the floor in every game."

The first team

Jenna Bradford, Milford Mill, Sr. G: Bradford set the tone for the 11th-ranked Millers' high-scoring offense, which averaged 69.5 points per game. When the 5-6 senior point guard wasn't scoring by penetrating or hitting from outside, she was setting up her teammates to score. Bradford averaged 15.2 points and led the team in assists (6.0) and steals (140). A repeat first-team All-City/County pick, she guided the Millers to their third consecutive Baltimore County title and their first appearance in a state championship game -- the 3A final, which they lost to Wheaton. Bradford has signed with Coppin State.

Betsy Gaines, Roland Park, Jr., G: If Gaines had a fault last season, it was her reluctance at times to assert herself on the court. That wasn't a problem for the 5-6 junior guard this season. She embraced her role as the team's go-to player and always seemed to rise to the occasion in big games. Gaines, a second-team All-City/County selection last season, did it all for the Reds -- she led the team in scoring (16.1) and steals (4.3) and she also was the team's best three-point shooter, one of the top defenders and best free-throw shooters (79 percent).

Meghan Kelly, Roland Park, Jr., G: Kelly was the other half of arguably the area's best backcourt tandem. Defense was Kelly's forte. If an opposing player had the pesky Kelly guarding her, she knew she was in for 32 minutes of in-your-face defense. The 5-4 junior point guard is an excellent ball-handler who capably pushed the ball down the floor and started the fast break. She averaged 4.8 assists, 3.5 steals and was the Reds' third-leading scorer (9.0).

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