Kennedy trying to keep Dunbar streaking

Poets go for title No. 3 in row, first in Class 1A

Chesapeake's family bond

Girls basketball notebook

High Schools

March 07, 2002|By Katherine Dunn and Edward Lee | Katherine Dunn and Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

Dunbar senior Toni Kennedy has never lost a state tournament basketball game, and she plans to keep it that way.

As No. 4 Dunbar heads into tomorrow night's state Class 1A semifinal meeting with Bohemia Manor, Kennedy is about to put the finishing touches on an amazing high school run.

The 5-foot-7 guard, known for her long-distance shooting, is 4-0 in the state tournament, helping the Poets bring home the past two 2A crowns. She has never lost a game at home, either, as the Poets ran their Orleans Street streak to 48. In Kennedy's four years, the Poets have gone 92-10.

This season, however, has been a little different than all the others. For the first time in her career, Kennedy was the lone star returning after All-Metro point guard Tiffany Jones ran out of eligibility.

For Kennedy, her newfound status was a double-edged sword. She now draws tons of defensive attention.

"I used to dream that teams did that. Now I hate it," Kennedy said with a laugh, "but it's not bad due to the fact that we have so many people who can score."

Still, Kennedy averages 18.1 points and can regularly hit from 25 or 26 feet out.

"Most of the teams that scout us know she'll shot it long, so they'll run doubles at her or play box-and-one," said Poets coach Wardell Selby. "It has been tough for her because in the past they were looking at Keisha [Wills] and Tiffany, and now everything is focussed on her. She's never been in that situation, so we talked and we adjusted and it's worked out. She's had a real good year."

The Poets are the only team with the chance to repeat as champions in the tournament and another title would put them in elite company. Only four other programs have won three or more consecutive titles, and no Baltimore City program has ever won three times.

All in the family

For No. 15 Chesapeake of Anne Arundel County, basketball is a family affair.

Junior guard Lynnea Spinnenweber's father, John, is the team's coach. Junior guard Courtney Gogolinski's dad, Gary, is an assistant coach.

That means that the coaching on the court doesn't necessarily end there, Lynnea Spinnenweber said.

"Everything carries over," she said. "Whatever happens at practice, it carries over to home."

Courtney Gogolinski said her father has learned to let her approach him after practices and games.

"Sometimes it's like, `Dad, I need some help.' Other times, it's like, `I know what I did. I don't need to talk about it,' " she said. "He's learned to back off a little bit."

Coaching their children is old hat for John Spinnenweber and Gary Gogolinski. Both men coached their sons, John Jr. and Jason, when they played for the Cougars boys basketball team during the 1997-98 season.

"It's a blessing to coach your own kid and have her play well," John Spinnenweber said of coaching his daughter and her teammates to the school's second 4A East Regional championship. "You always want all of your players to do well, but it's an extra blessing when your own kid plays well."

Rookie encounters

Hammond coach Mona Jackson and Aberdeen coach Brandi Barnes have more in common than guiding their teams to the state semifinals as rookie head coaches.

Both have been to the state tournament before -- as players.

Jackson, a 5-9 All-Howard County forward/guard, led Howard to the 3A title in 1994 as well as a return trip to the semifinals in 1995. Barnes, 6-3 center and three-time All-Harford County selection, carried Joppatowne to the title game in 1994 and semifinal appearances in 1995 and 1996.

Sister act

Carly and Sandy Wasserbach had not played a basketball game together in five years when freshman Sandy joined her sister at Catonsville last fall. Still, it didn't take long for the genetic connection to emerge.

"One night, Sandy was driving down the floor and she had Becky Clipp and Carly out on the wings," said Comets coach Mike Mohler. "I said to the people on the bench, `Guess where this one's going?' Sure enough, it went to Carly and she got fouled on the play. While they were on the foul line, I said to Becky, `You didn't have a chance. Blood's thicker than water.' "

Carly said the connection also stems from playing a lot of recreation ball together when they were little.

"We know each other so well that we always look for each other," Carly said. "I can't really describe it, but there is something there that wouldn't be there if she wasn't my sister."

As the No. 8 Comets go into tomorrow night's 2A semifinal, Carly, a 5-8 junior forward, averages 12.6 points and 9.1 rebounds while Sandy, a 5-6 point guard, adds 8.5 points and 6.0 rebounds as well as 3.0 assists a game -- many of them to her sister.

Despite the tendency to look for each other, the Wasserbachs fit well into a balanced team that can have a different high scorer for every day of the week.

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