1999-2000 All-Carroll County basketball teams

High School

March 14, 2000

Player of the Year

Heather Easter, North Carroll: It shouldn't have been a surprise that this 5-foot-11 guard developed into the most capable player on the floor. At the urging of Panthers coach Sarah Palmer, Easter, a two-time all-county selection, made the transition from forward to guard and worked to improve her outside shot. The results were impressive. Easter finished second in the county in scoring (13 points a game), first in three-point accuracy (36.6 percent) and eighth in rebounding (6.6). She scored 21 points against both South Carroll and Urbana, 18 against both Frederick and Liberty and 13 in a big victory against Linagnore. Easter's production helped North Carroll successfully defend its county title, grab a share of the Central Maryland Conference championship and advance to the Class 3A West regional semifinals. Francis Scott Key coach Alice Smith said of Easter: "She can handle the ball, play defense, shoot the three and score from the inside. She's an all-around player." Easter is considering playing at either Air Force, Salisbury State, or William & Smith.

Coach of the Year

Sarah Palmer, North Carroll: At the beginning of the season, the goals were simple: win a second straight county crown and avoid last year's quarterfinal exit from the playoffs. But little thought had been given to competing for the conference championship, which had belonged to Urbana the previous two seasons. But the Panthers surprised everyone -- including themselves -- as they split meetings with Urbana, Linganore and Frederick, and finished in a three-way tie for the title with Urbana and Frederick. Palmer, who spent most of last season trying to get her players to adjust to her style of basketball, credits the team for their 19-5 season. "They had all the pieces," she said. "It was just a matter of trying to put it all together."

First team

Michelle Allen, Liberty: This 5-foot-5 senior guard earned her third all-county honors despite playing about a quarter of the season with one able arm. Unable to raise her right arm -- her shooting arm -- above her head without causing intense pain, Allen learned to shoot with her left hand, leading the Lions with 10.1 points a game and a 68 percent free-throw rate. She also continued to be one of the county's most prolific passers, averaging 4.4 assists a game. Palmer said opposing teams did well to focus on Allen, who will attend Cornell on a lacrosse scholarship. "She's one of those kids that you center practice against," Palmer said.

Candice Jeffery, North Carroll: This 5-foot-10 senior forward shot up on the scoring charts this season. Jeffrey, a two-time all-county pick, led the county in scoring (15.5 points a game), rebounding (12.4) and free-throw accuracy (75.2 percent). A tenacious rebounder who had a knack for grabbing the loose ball, Jeffrey had a 27-point, 18-rebound outing against Thomas Johnson, a 16-point, 12-rebound night against Liberty and a 30-point outburst against Long Reach. "I think that she is probably one of the strongest post players in the county," said Liberty coach Dave Trumbo. "When North Carroll needed a score, they went to her." Jeffery will play at either King's College or Virginia Wesleyan.

Jen Sawyer, Francis Scott Key: This 5-foot-7 senior guard emerged as the county's most improved player. Averaging about three points and a steal a game last season, Sawyer tripled her stats this season. She finished third in the county in scoring (11.6 points a game), first in steals (3.8) and first in field-goal accuracy (46.8 percent). The three-year varsity player and team captain also drew the team's toughest defensive assignment, frequently guarding the likes of Middletown's Kim Waeber and Brunswick's Jamie Cable. Palmer said of the South Carolina-bound Sawyer: "She's one of those players that I stick my best defender on."

Lauryn Smith, Liberty: The 5-foot-9 junior forward continued to be a power on the boards. Smith, an all-county selection last season, finished second in the county in rebounding with 12.3 boards a game. She also contributed 9.5 points and 2.4 steals a game. Smith saved some of her best performances for the Class 3A West regional playoffs. She recorded 16 points, 22 rebounds, seven steals and five blocks against Thomas Johnson, and 17 points, 13 rebounds, five steals and five blocks against Walter Johnson. "She is such a great athlete," said Westminster coach Dick Ebersole.

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