Like their varsity counterparts, junior varsity teams left everything they had each night on the court and on the mats this winter.
In gyms all over the county, players developed their talents in what was for many their first taste of high school athletics.
For some players, the season begins and ends on the JV level, but for others, their efforts were rewarded with a coveted spot on the varsity team late in the season.
We contacted each school's athletic director and asked that the JV coaches email us a wrap-up of their team's season, including some of the outstanding players and some of the highlights. This is what we heard.
Atholton found its groove in the middle of the season with a nine-game winning streak. The Raiders finished 14-8 overall and were paced by the team's Most Valuable Player, Blake James (10.6 points per game).
Casey Kelly added 8.2 points per game and was the leading rebounder with 142 boards. Jordan Patterson and Chris Carter led Atholton in assists with 63 and 57, respectively.
Centennial performed well again this year, finishing the season 18-2 overall (17-2 county).
The Eagles received contributions from many players, including Isaiah White, who was putting up 15.2 points per game before an injury cut his season short. Connor Clemens replaced White in the lineup and provided key long-range shooting with an average of 12.7 points per game.
Fellow sophomores Nick Benavides (5 rebounds per game), Kevin Wilson and Eli Geist (7 rpg) all provided leadership, rebounding and a scoring punch. Wilson stepped in to become the defensive stopper every team needs, leading Centennial in charges taken and always being assigned the opposing team's best scorer.
Freshman Tom Brown played multiple positions and demonstrated the ability to score from both the perimeter and on the low block, averaging 14.1 points per game. Fellow freshmen EJ Fowler and Mike Merkey were solid at their guard positions, also stepping in for the injured White and filling the void once Chad Strothers was called up to the varsity squad. Freshman Min An is a high-energy player who gets after it on both sides of the ball.
After a successful run through the first half of the season, Eagles coach Chris Sanders wanted to make sure his team remained focused.
"The second time through the schedule always shows how much opposing teams have improved," Sanders said. "We knew from past experience that success in the second half of the season would result from solid and consistent defense and how much players were able to step up and compete."
Centennial held opposing teams to 39.4 points per game and won by an average margin of 13 points.
Chapelgate had a strong run in the MIAA C Conference, including multiple league championships, but made the move up to the B Conference this winter. In a rebuilding year, with nine freshmen on the roster, the Yellowjackets finished with a 3-14 league record. Seven of those losses were by five points or less.
"Regardless of our record, we were very competitive in the MIAA B division and plan to continue in that division next season," coach Chris Tringali said. "Two of our wins came against division leaders Annapolis Area Christian School and St. Vincent Pallotti."
Marquise Beckett led the team in scoring with a 9.6 points per game average, while Chris Fitzgerald averaged 8.1 points, 5.7 rebounds and three blocks per game.
Kenny Davis averaged six points and Jalyn Sydnor led the team in rebounds with 7.4 per game, including a season-high 23 rebounds coming against Pallotti.
"With all of our freshmen and sophomores returning next season we are looking forward to continued progress and growth as a team," Tringali said.
Capitalizing on a fast start to the winter, Glenelg finished with an overall record of 11-9 (11-8 in county play). Sophomore captains Brent Richardson and Praveen Morgan led a balanced scoring attack. The team's other captain, sophomore Stone Conners, was a rebounding machine on both ends of the floor.