Hammond puts out word with win


Taking Flecker title sign of Bears' intentions to bid for county crown

March 29, 2002|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

The Hammond boys team sent a message to its county competition Tuesday by winning the Norman Flecker Memorial Spring Lacrosse Tournament.

Atholton has hosted a spring lacrosse tournament for 18 years, but the Golden Bears had never before won it outright, although they tied for the title in 1994.

Hammond (2-0) surprised a lot of people, including River Hill, a team it defeated, 16-13, in the opening round. The Golden Bears then crushed Pallotti, 17-2.

River Hill is expected to be one of the county's better teams this season.

But the Golden Bears didn't surprise themselves by beating the Hawks.

"This is the best team I've ever coached at Hammond," said Dave Griffin, now in his sixth season as Hammond's head coach.

The Golden Bears went 8-5 last season, finishing fourth in the county. They have returned 17 seniors and seven starters, including two returning captains, defenseman Jeff Hutchinson and attackman Kevin Dietsch.

P.C. Johnsen won the tournament's MVP plaque for his outstanding overall play as a central midfielder. He won 23 faceoffs against River Hill, and lost only three faceoffs during the tournament. He scored five goals and had two assists.

Johnsen will play for Randolph-Macon next year on a full academic scholarship, and he is considered the best player on his team by coach Griffin.

"We have a lot of expectations this season," Johnsen said. "Beating River Hill set the tone for our season. One of our goals this season was to win this tournament."

Because the Golden Bears are a senior-dominated team that has played together for four years, and in many cases six years, counting two in the Howard County Lacrosse Program, they think that another goal the school has never accomplished is also within reach - a county championship.

"We have a legitimate shot," Johnsen said. "Every starter but our goalkeeper is a senior. We have good team chemistry, a strong attack, defense and goalkeeper."

Centennial is being touted by many as the team to beat this year, but the Golden Bears lost by only a goal to the Eagles last season.

"This should be our best chance in a long time to win the county," said Andy Keats, who scored eight goals and had six assists in the tournament. Marty Flaherty scored 10 goals in the tourney, including seven against River Hill. Hutchinson and Andrew Leonard were keys to the defense.

Hammond will have a tougher time in the postseason tournament this season because it has moved up from 2A-1A into the same 3A-2A region as Mount Hebron and Centennial.

Slow start for Raiders

Atholton (3-9 last season) was hoping to reach the final of its tournament but faltered in the opening game against Pallotti.

The Raiders (0-2) forged a four-goal lead in the fourth period before losing, 10-9.

After a five-minute break, the Raiders went back out and lost the consolation game to River Hill, 15-6.

Mike Dunn led the Raiders in the tournament with seven assists and three goals. Matt Lauer scored four goals against Pallotti, and Chris Kevan scored three against River Hill.

The flu has ravaged Atholton since its fourth day of practice.

"We've had two or three guys out sick constantly," said second-year coach Josh Bound.

Due to school construction, the Raiders also have struggled at practice, using a field that is half the size of a normal field.

Bound said his team cannot practice at Clemens Crossing, as it has in the past, because the softball team has relocated there.

"For about 10 minutes against Pallotti, everything clicked and we had great team play," Bound said. "That's what we want, team play."

Howard's lights

No one yet knows what will happen in the wake of a storm last week that blew down one of the Howard High football stadium's 40-year-old wooden light poles.

But Don Disney, the county's coordinator of athletics, thinks the current lights are inadequate for the long term and should eventually be replaced.

He pegs the cost of completely new, state-of-the-art lights at $120,000.

"You would only need four new poles, which could be moved behind the seating area," said Disney, who thinks the current poles are too close to the field and represent a possible safety concern.

In today's economic atmosphere, Disney said he doesn't foresee money coming from the Department of Education to pay for new lights.

"The school's booster club might have to raise funds to pay for the lights," he said.

To play night football next fall, he said that "a makeshift repair could be made."

Howard athletic director Vince Parnell would also like to see state-of-the-art lighting, but he is realistic about that happening in the near future.

"It's obvious we're in some kind of fiscal hardship, so you can't expect to go in and just ask the county for $120,000, but it is realistic to expect pole replacement for now," he said. "Money for a completely new system would have to be built into the future budget."


Three season-opening lacrosse games were postponed last Friday.

Mount Hebron will now play at Broadneck on April 2. That game was postponed because Broadneck's lights were not working.

Glenelg will play at South Carroll on April 18, and Atholton will play at Aberdeen on April 20 in two games postponed because of cold weather.

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