County champs focus on states

Teams enjoy titles, chance to stay loose, but look to make biggest impact in playoffs



Arundel girls basketball coach Lee Rogers said winning county championship games "are nice, but getting to the state tournament is better and what we are focused on."

That's coming from the county's most successful girls coach since the county finals for boys and girls - pitting the top two finishers from the regular season - commenced in the 1995-96 season. No. 6 Arundel claimed its fourth consecutive county title and its ninth in 11 years with last week's 62-53 win over No. 13 Old Mill.

Rogers, who has led Arundel to state titles in 1996, 2000 and 2004 in seven trips to the state tournament in his 16 years as coach, uses the county final to prepare for the state playoffs.

"The playoffs are the most important thing for us," Rogers said.

Rogers said a benefit to playing in the county championship game is that his team doesn't lose its edge by being idle for a week or more - the top four teams in each region have a bye in the first round of the playoffs and don't play for about 10 days until the quarterfinals. But Rogers also realizes that it gives other teams in his region a chance to scout his team firsthand.

A number of boys and girls county coaches view the county championship games as a necessary evil. They also know that if they lose, they still can make an impact in the playoffs.

"We know if we win two more games, we can get another chance at them," North County coach Mike Francis said of No. 7 Old Mill, which defeated his No. 13 Knights, 61-47, in the county boys final. "We won 11 straight [before the loss to Old Mill], so now we win two straight, we get another shot. And that's what we're looking for."

Francis was referring to the Class 4A East regional playoffs, where Old Mill and North County are the top two seeds. The Patriots won two of three meetings with the Knights this season.

Quick hits

Chesapeake's Casey Rudd, who won the Class 4A state pole vault with a mark of 12 feet, is the nephew of Glen Burnie boys basketball coach Mike Rudd. ... The sixth Charm City Challenge, which will include some county boys basketball players, is set for April 2 at the Towson Center. The 3 p.m. game will pit the Baltimore City stars vs. the Suburban seniors, while the Baltimore metro stars will take on the U.S. All-Stars at 5 p.m. ... Ryan Hadley, who led St. Mary's to the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference title in boys soccer and the metro area in scoring (23 goals, seven assists), has received an appointment to the Merchant Marine Academy. Hadley has a 3.3 grade point average and scored 1,650 on his SAT. ... Rob Harris has left Severna Park, where he was the defensive coordinator for the football team, to take over the same position at Broadneck. Falcons junior varsity volunteer coach Mike Price will replace Harris.

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