1998-99 Anne Arundel County boys basketball previews

December 04, 1998|By Pat O'Malley

Public schools

Annapolis Running Panthers

1997-98 record: 21-7

Coach: John Brady (career record: 437-87)

Top players: Thomas Hawkins, 6-3, Jr., S; Marcus Johnson, 6-4, Jr., G; Kyron Belt, 6-2, Sr., F; Dewayne Hunt, 6-1, Sr., F; Marcus Neal, 6-0, So., G; Travis Foster, 6-5, Jr., F

Outlook: Brady has a potential Class 4A state champion. Everybody is back, including Hawkins, who played G-F and even posted up on occasion as the first sophomore named County Player of the Year. The versatile swingman averaged 20 points and seven rebounds last season, and scored 16 points in a 70-64 state semifinal loss to eventual state-champion Gaithersburg (27-1) at Cole Field House. Also back are a host of other outstanding underclassmen, led by Johnson and Foster, in addition to senior leaders Belt and Hunt. Neal, called up in late season for the playoff run, had 12 points, six rebounds and six assists in the state semifinal.

Arundel Wildcats

1997-98 record: 6-17

Coach: Hank Kuzma, second season

Top players: Ellis Champion, 6-2, Sr., G-F; Mike Parker, 6-5, Sr., C-F; A.J. Gallow, 6-8, Sr., C-F; Mario White, 6-1, Sr., S; Ben Arnold, 6-0, Sr., F

Outlook: Former Navy guard Kuzma is hoping to turn things around in Gambrills with Champion (12 points) and Parker (eight rebounds) playing key roles. "Ellis has a great outside shot, and Parker is very strong inside and should get help from Gallow," said Kuzma. Parker, a two-time All-County football lineman, recovered from a bad back. Kuzma said his 'Cats will "continue to improve our half-court defenses and run a successful fast break when the opportunity is there."

Broadneck Bruins

1997-98 record: 13-11

Coach: Ken Kazmarek (254-101)

Top players: Lehrman Dotson, 6-0, Sr.,, G; Tremayne Williams, 6-2, Sr., G-F; Jeff Logan, 6-1, Sr., F; Keith Williams, 6-1, Sr., G; Jason Burton, 6-6, Jr., F

Outlook: With four returning starters -- Dotson, K. Williams, Logan and Burton -- the Bruins should be back with the big boys. "Anytime you have that many starters back, you have to be optimistic," said Kazmarek. "We're very quick and athletic and hope to press more on defense to get easy baskets in transition." Point guard Dotson was third-team All-County last season after averaging 15 points and nearly four assists. Logan averaged seven boards and will get a lot of help from Burton and two 6-3 Fs, senior Ed Hayes and soph Stephan Sharps.

Chesapeake Cougars

1997-98 record: 14-9

Coach: John Spinnenweber (73-93)

Top players: Travis Blake, 6-5, Sr., F; Ron Spriggs, 6-2, Sr., F; John McIlwain, 5-9, Sr., G; Bo Danton, 6-2, Jr., F; Kyle Brown, 6-1, Jr., G-F

Outlook: After the Cougars' first winning season and their top two seasons (26-21) in history, they hope to keep it going. But Blake is the only player with varsity experience. "We've started something here that works, and the kids understand that," said Spinnenweber. "We need to improve every day. We will have a little more quickness and athleticism. Travis [Blake] can be one of the county's best." Brown, a transfer from St. Frances in Baltimore, adds depth.

Glen Burnie Gophers

1997-98 record: 10-15

Coach: Mike Rudd, second season

Top players: Owen Gaither, 6-3, Sr., F; Brian Kellner, 5-11, Jr., G; Derek Flournoy, 5-11, Sr., G; George Schneider,6-4, Sr., C

Outlook: Rudd made great strides in his rookie season, going from three wins in '96-97 to 10 wins and taking two playoff games before losing in the region semis to Westminster. Gaither is projected to be one of the county's 10 best players after averaging 17 points and seven rebounds as a third-team All-County forward. "Owen will be on the wing and can go inside, where we have a legitimate big man in Schneider," said Rudd. "I expect us to compete with anybody in the county."

Meade Mustangs

1997-98 record: 19-6

Coach: Butch Young (421-282)

Top players: Jeff Charles, 6-4, Sr., F; Kirk Barrett, 5-6, Sr., G; Marcus Armstrong, 6-2, Sr., F; Marcus Davis, 6-0, Jr.,F; Eric Brown, 5-6, Jr., G; Mel Montgomery, 5-10, Jr., G-F

Outlook: After emerging as last winter's surprise team, winning the county title with a 16-1 record despite only one returning starter, the Mustangs will be hard-pressed for an encore. Charles (11 points), second team All-County, is the only returning starter. But it's too early to tell what the crafty Young might have up his sleeve. Young, last season's Coach of the Year, is back for his 32nd year, the last 22 at military-based Meade. He is used to rebuilding with the county's most transient student population. "Our biggest problem will be rebounding, because we've got an awfully small team," he said. "We might use a four- or five-guard offense. We do have better than average quickness and a bunch of guys who can run and catch."

North County Knights

1997-98 record: 4-19

Coach: Mike Francis, first season

Top players: Mark Jennings, 6-2, Jr., G; Chuck Willis, 5-10, Jr., G; Jerome Goodman, 6-4, Jr., F; Paul Brown, 6-2, Sr., G; Charles Gaither, 6-1, Sr., G

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