Chesapeake-BC in spirited mood

Diggs feels `really nervous' as Bayhawks play in 1st state semifinal tomorrow

Boys basketball notebook

High Schools

March 07, 2002|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

At Chesapeake of Baltimore County, center Lamont Diggs is a big man on campus in more ways than one.

At 6 feet 5, not only is Diggs the largest player on the Bayhawks' boys basketball team, but he's also one of the easiest to spot in the hallways of a school that has been turned upside down by the team's recent success.

"Everybody's talking about us around here, congratulating you when they see you in the hallway on the nice game you just had," said Diggs, a senior who will walk on at Morgan State next season. "The attention we're getting, it's really cool -- something you only dream about."

Diggs' excitement is understandable in light of what the Bayhawks accomplished last weekend.

In defeating North East of Cecil County, 45-41, Chesapeake (15-11) earned the school's first regional basketball title (Class 1A North) and a trip to the state semifinals at University of Maryland's Cole Field House.

The Bayhawks will face No. 5 Dunbar at 5 p.m. tomorrow.

"I'm really nervous because I've never been there, only seen it on television," Diggs said. "But it's going to be very different, and I'll be nervous with all the noise. And when you're shooting at the basket you've got all that open space behind it instead of a wall. I'm just going to go out and play my heart out."

The Bayhawks' regional crown is the school's first in any sport since the softball team in 1995. The Bayhawks' basketball program has gone 57-44 over the past four years after being 15-46 the previous three.

"I always said that if we could start something in one sport, we could grab that team by the coattails and it could pull the whole school up," said Chesapeake athletic director Rod McMillian, who credits second-year coach Matthew Mackey for the turnaround.

"The other day, I was talking to some kids and one of them put his hand straight up over his head and said, `Can you feel it?' And I said, `Feel what?' And his response was, `School spirit -- it's in the air.' "

Three to go

Daryl Wade of Mervo, Rodney Coffield of Douglass and Eric Lee of Dunbar are not only coaches from Baltimore City leading their teams into state semifinal games, but they each played for Bob Wade at Dunbar in the early 1980s.

No. 7 Mervo will face Eleanor Roosevelt in tonight's 4A semifinals and No. 1 Douglass meets Chopticon in today's 3A semifinals.

"This is the first time that all three of us are here together, and we've talked about it," Daryl Wade said. "We all want to come out winners."

Wade's only regret is that Lake Clifton coach Herman Harried, also a Dunbar graduate, couldn't make the trip: His team lost, 75-42, to Mervo in last weekend's Class 4A North Regional title game.

"It's a shame we had to go against each other for one of us to get to Cole," Wade said.

Loading up the buses

When No. 8 South Carroll (20-5) plays today's 3 p.m. 3A state semifinal against Gwynn Park, it will be only the school's third appearance in the final four since losing to Bladensburg in the 1989 final.

"It's the end of a long drought," said athletic director Jim Horn.

The Cavaliers will have plenty of support.

"We're taking six bus loads of kids down -- at least 240 kids," Horn said. "That's not including a seventh bus with the 15-member pep band and 19-member cheerleading squad, and the team members on an eighth bus.

"I think the enthusiasm [of Cole Field House closing] has carried over," said Horn, adding that South Carroll students will be dismissed from school at 1 p.m. "We expect a pretty good crowd of adults to come down also. It'll be fun."

Mavericks find meaning

Eastern Tech coach Todd Wade and his 14th-ranked Mavericks are making their first trip to Cole, and the sixth-year coach made sure the significance is not lost on his players.

"I just started naming all the names, told them you're going to be on a floor that Grant Hill, Michael Jordan, Jerry Stackhouse, Christian Laettner, and they're all pumped and they're excited," Wade said. "I think it's really special for the kids to just get to Cole Field House and to do it in its final year is awesome."

But Wade pointed out that his Mavericks (19-7) won't be "just happy to be there."

"We're not going in with that mentality," he said. "Central's a great team, they're big, and they're talented. But our attitude is we definitely would like to win it all."

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