Polk CC waits for 2nd Annapolis shot to drop

SIDELINES

April 10, 2003|By PAT O'MALLEY

Laronja Owens, a two-time All-Metro guard and Anne Arundel County Player of the Year in boys basketball, is known for his ability to finish. His inside partner at Annapolis, Joshua Johnson, is known for rebounds and put-backs.

Yesterday at Annapolis High, Owens finished, as expected, by signing to attend Polk Community College in Winter Haven, Fla., in the fall.

But Johnson, also an All-Metro selection, did the unexpected. He is holding his letter of intent, and a surprised Matt Furjanic, Polk's coach, is still waiting for the 6-foot-6 forward to put it back, signed.

Johnson showed up with Owens and Annapolis coach John Brady to meet the media yesterday but didn't sign. After conferring privately with Furjanic, Johnson left.

"He told me he was still going to sign with us, but that he wanted to talk to his mom one more time and sign after he plays in an upcoming AAU game," Furjanic said.

Said Brady: "I don't get it. He told me [Tuesday] he was signing and going to Polk. Then, he shows up today and tells us he's not."

Two other former All-Metro players from Annapolis, Thomas Hawkins and Marcus Neal, have played two years each at Polk. Hawkins will be a senior this year at Glenville (W.Va.) State College, an NCAA Division II school.

Neal, Annapolis' all-time leading scorer with 1,744 career points, was Player of the Year in Polk's conference this season. He signed recently with the University of Nebraska to play in the Big 12 Conference.

"The two guys I've had from Annapolis already understood the game when they came in as freshmen and were sound fundamentally as far as individual techniques, and that's a credit to John Brady and the job he does here," Furjanic said.

"I think in two years what we can do with Laronja academically and basketball-wise, he can put himself in a great position, like Marcus [Neal]. I think Laronja can be one of the hottest guard prospects in junior college basketball."

Owens, second to Neal in career points with 1,624 in three seasons (Neal scored his in four), said he chose Polk for its academics, basketball program and friendly students and teachers.

"If I keep working hard in the classroom and on the court, I can get a chance to go to a big-time school in two years," said Owens, who plans to major in communications and business. "I had great coaches in Coach Brady and [assistant Dale] Chambers, who taught me the fundamentals, and I owe them a lot."

Brady said Neal told him he realized his dream of "getting into a big-time Division I school" and predicted the same for Owens.

Simms to coach football

Chesapeake High has hired its baseball coach, Jim Simms, to also be the football coach.

Simms, who is in his 13th season at the Lake Shore school's baseball coach and led the Cougars to a state title in 1997, will replace Tom Kraning in football. Kraning's coaching contract was not renewed after a 4-6 record that left his career record at 52-98 in 15 seasons, but he'll continue teaching physical education.

A longtime assistant to Kraning, Simms served as offensive coordinator the past three seasons. He takes over a program that has had only one winning season since the school started playing the sport in 1977. The 1985 team coached by Denis Schanberger was 6-4 for the Cougars' only winning team.

Factory reschedules

Soggy fields mean no games tomorrow in the Baseball Factory Invitational, but tournament director Jeff Brazier has posted a Saturday schedule:

At Arundel High: Musselman (W.Va.) vs. No. 15 Arundel (4-1), 10 a.m.; No. 6 St. Paul's (6-4) vs. Jefferson (W.Va.), 1 p.m.

At Joe Cannon Stadium: No. 2 Old Mill (6-1) vs. Shenendehowa (N.Y.), 10 a.m.; No. 3 Mount St. Joseph (9-1) vs. Steinert (N.J.), 1 p.m.

Losers at each site will play at 4 p.m. Winners will play at 7 p.m. Brazier said if two local teams go 2-0 at the separate sites, arrangements will be made for them to play a championship game on April 19.

Lentz field rededication

Northeast baseball coach Larry Williams says the rededication of Harry Lentz Memorial Field will take place at 6 p.m. tomorrow in the Pasadena school's auditorium, if it can't be done at the stadium.

Williams is hoping for a huge turnout of Northeast baseball alumni and wants to build interest in the graduate group. For more information, call 410-437-7485.

Sideliners

With Tracy Crane moving to North County as field hockey coach, Chesapeake hired Melissa Reynolds-Page, who was JV coach at South River, as its new coach. ... Michelle DeChant, All-County and second-team a All-Metro girls lacrosse midfielder last year as a junior, is headed to Stanford with a 4.30 weighted grade point average and 1,370 SAT. ... Severn's Schuyler Sutton, also All-County and second All-Metro in girls lacrosse, and Adam Richey, the school's girls soccer coach, are both singers. They will go to Nashville, Tenn., next month to jointly record a country music CD. Sutton has sung the national anthem at Camden Yards.

Have a note? Call Pat O'Malley's 24-hour Sportsline at 410-647-2499 or send e-mail to patomalleysports@aol.com.

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