All-carroll County Basketball

High Schools

March 21, 2004|By Rich Scherr

BOYS CO-PLAYERS OF THE YEAR

Ryan Carr

Chris Prior

Westminster, seniors

Carr and Prior played equally significant, though very different, roles in leading Westminster to 16 wins and a share of the Carroll County title. While the 5-foot-10 Carr, also The Sun's county Player of the Year last season, led the Owls from the perimeter, averaging a team-leading 15 points from his guard position, the 6-3 Prior routinely took over games in the paint, ending this season as the only county player to average double figures in both points (11.3) and rebounds (11.9).

Carr, who will continue his career at Division III St. Mary's College, scored a season-high 34 points in a big late-season win over Liberty. Overall, he improved his scoring by two points a game, hitting 39 three-pointers and 85 percent of his free throws. He also averaged a team-leading 3.7 assists and 2.4 steals.

Prior, who had averaged under three points as a junior, came into his own this season after putting in countless hours in the weight room. With increased strength and confidence, the senior carried his team against Century, North Carroll and Linganore.

Together, the inside-outside combination was hard to stop, giving coach Brett Kanther the luxury of directing the ball to whomever had the hot hand.

BOYS COACH OF THE YEAR

Steve Johnson

Liberty

In his fourth season as coach, Johnson took a program that until recently had been planted at the bottom of the county standings and turned it into a champion. With a 5-1 record against county competition, Liberty earned a share of the county title for the first time since 1983. Along the way, the young Lions earned key wins over co-champion Westminster, Century and, in the Class 2A West regionals, North Hagerstown.

That's far from the way it was just a couple of seasons ago. After taking over the program in 2000, Johnson managed just five total wins in his first two seasons. Last season, the Lions began to turn the corner, winning six. All the pieces finally came together this season, led by point guard Frank Sisolak and 6-foot-7 center Andrew Martin, both first-team All-County picks. Johnson said the key to the turnaround has been Liberty's ability to consistently stop opponents with its man-to-man defense.

Johnson, 43, was a 1979 graduate of South Carroll, where he started for two years and averaged double figures in points as a power forward. He then served as an assistant under South Carroll coach Jim Carnes for 11 years.

Now, under his tutelage, Liberty appears to have a bright future. Eight of his 12 players this season came from the JV. Next season, he will return all but one key player.

BOYS FIRST TEAM

Ryan Burns

South Carroll, senior

Burns was the heart and soul of a South Carroll team that turned its season around with six wins in its final seven games. The 6-foot-5 senior finished second in the county with 15.2 points a game and fourth with 9.1 rebounds. He recorded seven double doubles, showing exceptional athleticism for a player his size. Burns also showed consistent leadership on a team that featured a freshman and three sophomores.

Ryan Dantoni

Century, senior

Dantoni was a standout on both sides of the court for the surprising Knights. The 6-foot junior averaged 14.6 points, six rebounds and a county-best 4.1 steals. He also consistently guarded the opposing team's top offensive threat, earning a deserved reputation as one of the county's most tenacious defenders. Century coach George Wunder said that Dantoni led by example in practice, games, off-season workouts and in the classroom.

Andrew Martin

Liberty, junior

At times this season, the 6-foot-7 junior was dominant in the paint. Martin averaged 10.6 points and 9.8 rebounds, helping the Lions (15-10) win a share of the county title for the first time in 21 years. Martin set a school record with 156 blocked shots and also showed touch at the foul line, where he shot nearly 73 percent. He had four triple doubles for the season, and also recorded 20 points, 12 rebounds and eight blocks in an upset of North Hagerstown in the playoffs.

Josh Rutter

Francis Scott Key, senior

The county's Defensive Player of the Year in football last fall, Rutter again proved his worth on the basketball court. Though just 6 feet 2, the senior consistently out-rebounded taller opponents, giving Key a strong inside presence. He averaged 12.9 points and 9.4 rebounds, twice pulling down 16 rebounds. He also shot surprisingly well from the perimeter. Rutter bench-presses more than 300 pounds and squats more than 400. He also excels in the classroom, where he is an honor roll student.

Frank Sisolak

Liberty, junior

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