A year later, Falcons back on track

Severna Park stands tall after 9-14 mark last season

Girls basketball

High Schools

February 21, 2002|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

Part of a handmade sign that the Severna Park girls basketball team carries to road games reads, "If you are satisfied with mediocrity, you are prohibited from riding this bus."

The Falcons are more than willing to take that ride as the 16th-ranked team in the metro area continues to fashion one of the more dramatic revivals in recent memory.

Last season, Severna Park struggled to a 9-14 record - just one year removed from playing in the Anne Arundel County championship game.

This season, the Falcons are 18-5 (14-2 league), with their first county title since a season-finale championship game was instituted for the 1995-96 season.

Add a No. 3 seed and first-round bye in the Class 3A East regional playoffs and it's not surprising that Severna Park is enjoying its transformation from county doormat to area power.

"I knew we would do well, but not as well as we have done," said junior point guard Jessica Norris, who is in her third season on the varsity team.

Like a master chef, Severna Park has mixed a number of ingredients to produce success.

First, every player undertook an off-season conditioning and weight-training regimen just two weeks after the end of last season.

Then, to develop greater familiarity with each other's play, they competed in summer basketball leagues.

Finally, the Falcons have achieved because of a trio of juniors in Norris, shooting guard Lauren Hall and forward Julia Waters.

Norris is the swift floor general who averages more than 12 points and likes to slap the court with both hands when Severna Park needs a defensive stop.

Hall is the team's best defender and streakiest scorer. She scored 25 points against four-time county champion Arundel more than two weeks ago.

Waters, who transferred from South River 13 months ago, is the team's leading scorer (13 points a game) and has been the go-to player in the paint.

Falcons coach Bill Giblin, who also noted the efforts of seniors Kate Drazan and Lisa Magness and junior Lauren Haag, said the key to success has been the team's workmanlike attitude.

"We're not very good, but we really do work harder than anybody else," he said. "We don't have the most talented kids, but they go out there and hustle."

According to Waters, the turning point of the season was embodied two months ago in Severna Park's 97-58 demolition of then-No. 16 Hammond.

The 97 points were the most the program scored - a development that may have opened the players' eyes, Waters said.

"We still talk about that now because you don't do that all the time," she said. "I don't think people thought we were going to be this good this year."

The Falcons can play a half-court game, but they are the most dangerous when they can take advantage of their transition game, a product of the fast-break style of Norris and Hall.

But Hall, who averaged more than 12 points, will miss the rest of the season because of academic ineligibility, and although she is allowed to practice with the team, her absence is obvious.

"Her presence was something you could feel on the court," Norris said. "She was always the first to run down the court ... I miss her."

Giblin said while he misses Hall, the team must look forward. He is seeking contributions from Magness, Haag, and maybe freshman Laura Moore to fill the void.

"We have played without kids before," Giblin said. "People have stepped up, and it has to happen again."

Which points back to the sign that Giblin created as a reminder his players not to rest on their laurels. Waters, for one, said she has received the message.

"Unless I play my best game out there, I'm not happy, and we all have that feeling," she said. "We know we have to get better every day, and we can."

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