Ex-pitching standout Lerner gets Hammond coaching job


High Schools

January 03, 2002|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Mike Lerner is coming home. The former Hammond pitcher will coach the Golden Bears baseball team next spring.

Hammond athletic director and former baseball coach Bob Maxey could not be happier about turning the program over to one of his former players.

"He's the perfect fit for us," said Maxey, who coached the Bears to a county championship and 20-2 record last spring, earning The Sun's Howard County Coach of the Year honor before stepping down after 17 seasons. "He'll take the program to bigger and better things. I'll be very supportive."

Lerner was varsity coach at Centennial in 2000, leading the Eagles to a 14-7 record before stepping down after one season. Last spring, he was assistant varsity coach at Howard, where he teaches social studies, and had coached the Lions JV for four seasons.

Lerner, 28, was an All-Metro pitcher for the 1991 Hammond team that went 19-5 and lost in the state finals to Northeast. He also pitched for St. Mary's College.

"I'm excited," he said. "It's good to give something back to a place that gave so much to you. But it's tough to leave Howard."

Flames nearly upset Vikings

Chapelgate is a small Christian school a stone's throw from Interstate 70 in Marriotsville, and its girls basketball team plays in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland's B division.

So when the Flames came within a point of knocking off then No. 6 Mount Hebron in the championship game of the Vikings Holiday Tournament, a lot of eyebrows were raised.

The Flames trailed by 14 points at halftime but outscored the Vikings in the third quarter 19-7 and eventually went ahead with 30 seconds left. It took a shot by Mount Hebron's Kristen Waagbo with 20 seconds left to beat Chapelgate.

The Flames (7-3 overall, 4-1 league) also missed a shot with three seconds left that could have won it.

"We took a long three-point shot, and the rebound went off our fingertips," said coach Jim Barber, who took over a Flames program four years ago that had never experienced a winning season. "We wanted our center to fake a shot and kick it out quickly, but they had that [outside shot] shut down, so we had to go to our wing. It was great coaching by them."

Barber said his team climbed back by taking off its full-court press and going to a tight man-to-man defense in the second half.

"We finally got some shots to fall in the third and fourth quarter, and [Mount Hebron] shot poorly at the foul line [6-for-26]," Barber said. "We have great respect for Mount Hebron, and we came ready to play. It was a great experience for us and a nice step for the program - but still disappointing. It was within our reach."

Chapelgate is coming off a 25-5 season and a Maryland Christian Schools tournament title, but few Flames games are played against the caliber of competition provided by Mount Hebron, which was 22-3 last winter.

Chapelgate's three losses this season were by two points to defending IAAM B Conference champion St. John's at Prospect Hall, two points to Mount de Sales and one point to Mount Hebron.

Chapelgate has crushed most opponents, winning by as many as 53 points over Harford Christian.

Senior Kristen Lynott leads the team with a 14-point average. Point guard Heather Landis, who fouled out with two minutes to play against Mount Hebron, averages 12 points and seven assists. And Christy Groves averages 11 points.

"If they played in [the] Howard County [league]," Mount Hebron coach Scott Robinson said, "they'd be better than most teams and competitive with the best teams."

He said the Flames, who made their first tournament appearance, have been invited back.

Barksdale unbeaten

Oakland Mills has another outstanding sprinter to replace Kyle Farmer, now at the University of Florida. Chris Barksdale is undefeated after two meets - four individual events and four relays.

Oakland Mills coach Sam Singleton does not hesitate to compare Barksdale to Farmer.

"Barks is pretty quick - a hair off Farmer. But he's more explosive, because he's stronger. No one has tested him yet," Singleton said. "He might be quicker than Farmer."

Barksdale may be tested tomorrow when five Howard County teams meet Anne Arundel County in a meet at the Prince Georges' Sports Complex.

"Normally, Anne Arundel County has some good sprinters, so it will be interesting to see what shows up," Singleton said. "But I've got my money on Barks. He's scary fast. You look at him and say, `He's not so fast.' Then, he snatches another gear on you. He may be beatable in the 55 [meters] because of his frame, but no one's going to get him in the 300."

Joining Oakland Mills tomorrow will be Glenelg, River Hill, Wilde Lake and Long Reach.

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