It's not often that a basketball team can go 21-3, lose four starters to graduation and possibly be better. But that could be the case for Dulaney's boys basketball team.
Two transfers, forward Jon Sims, and junior guard/forward Isaiah Lamb, have raised the expectations for the Lions, who are off to a 6-0 start in 2013-14.
Many of the nine returning players from a team that lost in the Class 4A North regional semifinals last year have taken on expanded roles, including junior guard Scott Harrelson and senior guard Stewart German.
Both Harrelson and German were part-time starters last year.
"I think this could be a special year," said Dulaney's Matt Lochte, who is in his ninth year as head coach. "I think our ceiling is higher this year. This is the best team we have had since I was an assistant in 2001, when we won the county championship. If you look at our roster, we have six or seven potential college-bound guys."
Lochte has been especially impressed with the 6-foot-8 Sims, a transfer from Arizona. He has emerged as a dependable low-post player, averaging 12 points and nine rebounds per game.
"He can do it all," Lochte said. "He can play with his back to the basket and face up. He can block shots. He has a super basketball IQ. He is a team player and doesn't have to have the ball, but I would like to get him the ball more."
Lamb, a transfer from Franklin, has had a similar impact. He's averaging 16 points and nine rebounds per game after sitting out last year because of a knee injury.
Lochte is thankful Lamb is healthy. "There was a lot of concerns about Isaiah's knee," Lochte said. "He had ACL surgery last October."
Lamb and Sims start, along with Harrelson, German and senior point guard Jason Lawson.
With those five, the Lions have excellent balance. Harrelson (averaging 12 points, 7 rebounds), Lawson (9 points, 5 assists) and German are all capable of scoring in double figures.
"We have (quality at) all positions," Lochte said. "We have a point guard. We have two or three really good wing players. We have a big man."
Dulaney is also getting valuable contributions from junior 6-foot-6 forward Ben Stevens, junior guards Gary Bernardez, Raynard McCamie and James Bonner and senior guard Mike Sheridan.
"We are deeper than we have been in a long time," Lochte said. "We are literally playing nine or 10 guys."
The Lions won the James T. Bogle Invitational, beating Glen Burnie, 55-41, on Dec. 27 in the championship and North County, 71-43, in the semifinals a day earlier.
Dulaney also has beaten Hereford, 66-52; Towson, 54-33; Boys' Latin, 62-56; and Perry Hall, 59-58.
Boys' Latin was 7-1 when the Lions beat the Lakers (22-5 last year) on Dec. 13.
"They are just so big, athletic and have so many weapons," Towson coach Tim Gavin said of Dulaney. "The only team I have seen with that kind of size is (The Baltimore Sun's No. 1 ranked) Milford Mill. Milford is still (defending) state and county champion, but Dulaney is just as athletic as them."