The Knights build a rep

Boys basketball: City College, better known for football, has fans talking hoops, too. In the state semis twice in two seasons, the Knights could get there again.

January 28, 1999|By Derek Toney | Derek Toney,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Standing a block east of historic Memorial Stadium, City College strikes an imposing image at 33rd Street and Loch Raven Boulevard. Its structure can be seen for miles around Baltimore.

Inside, the Knights are constructing a boys basketball program that is on the rise. The team has cracked the area's top 10 for the first time in years.

The No. 6 Knights have triumphs over Class 4A state semifinalist Mervo, perennial city power Southern-Balto., and Anacostia, runner-up to national powerhouse DeMatha for the Washington, D.C., title last season.

Despite losing at No. 2 Dunbar on Tuesday, City can assure itself second place in the city's East Division this afternoon with a victory over No. 13 Lake Clifton.

At City, where football has ranked among the area's best over the last decade, basketball is gaining acceptance.

"Everybody thinks of City as a football school or an academic school, mostly," said City senior captain Ryan Galloway. "We want people to know that we're a basketball school and can run with the best of them."

The Knights have been the only Baltimore school other than Dunbar to reach the state semifinals at the University of Maryland the last two seasons. In March, City reached the Class 3A state championship game at College Park before losing to Prince George's County's Friendly. The Knights, 16-12 last season, have seven players back. Galloway, a talented 6-foot guard, is a four-year starter.

His brother Todd has provided the biggest impact for the Knights. After transferring from St. Frances, where he played extensively as a freshman, Todd has been one of Baltimore's best point guards this season.

Senior Dominic Fulcher, a high-flying 6-4 forward, is considered by many fans to be City's best player. And 6-6 center Austin Baker and Bryant Johnson, seniors, provide inside defense and rebounding.

"The expectation here at City is for the students to get into college," said City coach Daryl Wade, whose team has a 3.2 overall grade-point average. "A lot of people think that inner-city athletes aren't strong students. My goal has been to prove that you can have strong student-athletes."

In his fourth season, Wade is establishing his own image, being more than the son of Bob Wade, a Baltimore coaching icon who commanded the powerhouse Dunbar squads in the 1980s to a couple of national titles and later coached at Maryland.

City was a basketball force during the 1960s and 1970s. The 1965-66 and 1972-73 teams rate among the best in Baltimore boys high school basketball history.

Over the last three seasons, City has gone 42-26.

"I'm not surprised [Daryl Wade's] team is playing well, because I know what kind of person he is," said Dunbar coach Lynn Badham. "He makes the kids do the right things and works very hard with them."

Another region title would mean a third straight trip to the University of Maryland in March, making City the second Baltimore team, after Dunbar (six), to accomplish that feat.

Surving the first night of such a trip, however, probably would mean the Knights must figure out how to overcome Prince George's County. Two county teams have ended City's most recent trips.

But as Wade sees things: "It's all about determination, and the kids think they belong."

Pub Date: 1/28/99

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