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.
Other contributors were sophomore Patrick Mullinix and freshmen Trey Davis and Dylan DuBeau. While there were some shortcomings, each of the sophomores on the team were able to beat each county team at least once in their two years on JV.
"All of our players gained valuable experience to help them as they move forward playing basketball," coach Joseph Osborne said.
Howard finished 12-7 in county play and was 13-7 overall. Coach Nils Schroder felt like his players grew as a team and ended with a very successful season.
"The two games we played against Atholton were really great because they both came down to the wire and one even went into overtime," Schroder said. "Winning both of those games was great, as was holding on to beat River Hill by one point in the last game of the season."
Freshman George Greene led the Lions in scoring. He was tough to guard this year because of his solid jumper but also his ability to get to the rim. Sophomore Kyle Lowenkron was one of the team's better shooters and had multiple games where he scored in double-digits. Sophomore Walter Okoye was the best finisher at the rim on the team.
Howard was led on defense and in rebounding by sophomores Deondre Robinson and Winston DeLattiboudere.
Mt. Hebron (4-15 overall) was led by sophomores Seth Madden, Justin Burk, Alphonso McKenzie and Nathan Stock. The Vikings also received strong contributions from freshmen Michael Carbonetti, Kyle Sutton, Graham Davis, Ian Johnson, Lance Madden, Brennen White and Chris Munko.
Burk and McKenzie were the lone returning players from last year's team and were elected as captains.
Mt. Hebron improved greatly over the course of the season. After dropping their first 11 games in county play, the Vikings finished the season by winning four of their last eight contests.
"As a coach, I am really proud of how the team finished the season because the guys never quit even after our slow start," coach Kelly Caprarola said.
Oakland Mills made one of the biggest turnarounds from one season to the next. After winning just one game a year ago, the Scorpions (12-6-1 county) finished with a 13-6-1 overall record.
Freshman Daniel Kiely averaged 20 points per game to pace Oakland Mills. Sophomore Keegan Moore was the leading rebounder, while sophomore Dexter Collins and freshman Tre Hopkins both were main contributors.
"Considering the program went 1-18 the previous year, I didn't know what kind of team I was coming in to with this being my first year at the school," head coach Mike Salapata said. "We defeated Centennial in overtime the first game of the year which set the tone for the remainder of the season. The kids worked extremely hard and were rewarded for it.
"I am also very pleased with what the future holds. We were playing eight freshman and two sophomores at the end of the season so the future of Oakland Mills basketball looks bright."
Wilde Lake's final record of 6-14 overall didn't reflect just how close its games were this season, as the Wildecats' losses were by an average of six points.
Sophomore Steven Jordan (11 points per game) was a catalyst and a leader for the team, which averaged 51 points per game. His play landed him a spot on varsity toward the end of the season.
Freshman Damari Parris (16 ppg) was a consistent scoring threat and a huge part of the offensive success. He set a career-high with 35 points against Hammond while scoring 20 or more points in eight games this year.
With a relatively inexperienced team (only three returners from last season), head coach Keith Williams believes the squad has a bright future.
"This team really developed throughout the course of the season and played some really unselfish team basketball," Williams said. "It was great to watch the guys grow; they came a long way this season. This is a good group of players. If they continue to work hard they will be successful in years to come."
Highlights from the season include a six-point victory over county leader Centennial and overcoming a 15-point deficit to beat Long Reach by eight points.
River Hill's JV cheerleading squad, led by coach Katie Carpenter, was crowned county champion this winter. The team scored 112.75 points to edge out second-place Long Reach (102.85) and Glenelg (100.7).
The Hawks went on to finish second in the region at the District V meet, while Long Reach was fifth and Glenelg took seventh.
River Hill's season also included top three finishes at the Patterson Mill Husky Invitational, the Perry Hall Winter Invitational and the Howard County Winter Blast Invitational. Team members include: Mycah Berson, Kara Brown, Kyla Clark, Cara Chen, Julia Chong, Colleen Clark, Gracee Cleary, Sammi Cowan, Heather Groves, Mariana Lancashire, Kelsey Li, Melissa Lopez, Averie McMahon, Sarah Newton, Kaitlyn North, Katherine Quiroz, Christina Scott, Allison Seibert, Emily Small and Tracey Wise.
Atholton had some clear team goals and felt like it was able to accomplish them before season's end.
"At the season's onset, the girls all decided that there were a number of things they wanted to accomplish and only a small part of that was devoted to "scoreboard" victories," coach Michael Koplow said. "As a team, they emphasized how each wanted to have fun, learn and develop a bit more with respect to basketball skills, win some games and represent Atholton High School well."
The Raiders finished with a 12-6-1 county record and were 13-6-1 overall. Freshman Caitlyn Burmester led the team with 134 points, 142 rebounds and 56 steals. She was rewarded with a late season call up to the varsity team. Point guard Meaghan Quinn directed the team's offense and was second in scoring with 107 points and 65 steals.
Sophomore Kayla Morton was well on her way to a breakout season before a concussion sidelined her.
Julia Barrett, Imani Hinson, Jetta Owens and Rachel Paek (all freshmen) were spark plugs throughout the year.
Centennial was able to quantify its improvement from last year after winning two more games than in 2011-12.
The Eagles finished with a 9-10 county record and were 9-11 overall. Centennial was led by sophomore captains Jordan Burk and Catherine Lambert, whose leadership helped guide the team to several close victories. Reese Western led the Eagles in scoring, while freshman Peyton Conley was the leading rebounder. Kewa Gray, another freshman, led the team in blocks and combined with sophomore Carolyn Cole to make up a hard-nosed defensive tandem.
"Highlights include several come-from-behind or close victories over Wilde Lake, Long Reach, Hammond and Oakland Mills," coach Sean LeBeau said. "The biggest bright spot of the season had to be Centennial avenging an eight-point loss to Atholton earlier in the season with a seven-point victory late in the season."
Expectations were high for Glenelg with 11 players returning, and the team didn't disappoint. The Gladiators (17-3, 19-3) were led by captains Kayla Tatum, Toni Pritchard and McKenzie Dailey, who made sure everyone gave it their all during practice and during the games.
After going undefeated though the first half of the season, the team had to learn how to adjust without Dailey after she was moved up to varsity. Freshmen Miranda Mattis and Caroline Esmond stepped into her point guard role. Mattis led Glenelg in scoring with 115 points.
Lola Fadiran led the team in rebounds and blocked shots (41), while Grace Perry and Pritchard each made 11 3-pointers.
"Having the best record (in the county) was one of our goals this year and we accomplished that," coach Chris Beil said. "We also wanted to defend our Big Doug Classic title from last year and we successfully did that. This tournament means a lot to my girls due to what Mr. Parker meant to the Glenelg community.
"My girls never gave up and that's one of their strengths. We were down by twenty at one point during our three losses and we came back to either take the lead or cut it down to a possession or two. Even though we didn't pull it out, I can't fault their effort."
With just two sophomores and 11 freshmen, Howard finished with a 15-7 overall record and 15-5 mark in the county.
The Lions were led in scoring by sophomore captain Madison Worrell (7.8 points per game), and freshmen guards Ella Orzechowski (7.1) and Grace Regal (6.5). Strong rebounding was the key for Howard with sophomore center Ellie Greaf (8.2 rebounds per game) and freshman forward Amy Bruner (5.0). Freshman point guard Natalie White (6 assists per game) was the floor general pulling things together.
After starting the season with a 3-5 record, the captain called several team meetings and the young team vowed to work harder and focus on the team versus individual accolades. Following one of those meetings, the team went on to avenge its worst loss of the season, against Mt. Hebron — a 21-point defeat — in the Big Doug Classic Christmas Tournament. After the win over Mt. Hebron, the Lions went on to win 12 of their last 14 games.
"The leadership of captain Madison Worrell helped to keep her other teammates calm, poised and positive about their ability to win," coach James Stewart said. "The hard work of each member of this team night after night helped to make us a success and an inspiration for any athlete aspiring to play basketball at Howard High School."
Micah Meekins and Jaleah Sydnor led Marriotts Ridge to an 11-9 record this season. Meekins and Sydnor averaged 8.7 and 8.3 points per game, respectively.
The Mustangs had their best run at the end of the season as they put together a four-game winning streak. Marriotts Ridge lost to Centennial and Atholton earlier in the season but turned the tables with wins over those two teams during the run.
"The highlights of the season were our one-point and two-point wins over River Hill," coach Caitlin Bay said. "We had a season (the girls) should be very proud of."
Mt. Hebron finished the season with a solid 15-4 county record and a 17-5 overall mark. The Vikings focused on hard work and defense. The motto of "Let's go to work" was a rallying point.
On the defensive side of the ball Emily Purnell led Mt. Hebron in steals, while Camryn Case was the leader in blocked shots. Hannah Arnold was the top rebounder. The offensive scoring leader was Jillian Kumar and Janette Yacynych led the team in assists. The Vikings picked up at least one victory over each county team.
Returners Olivia Eldridge and Courtney Rapp helped lead Oakland Mills to a 4-13-1 record. Newcomers Theda Jackson, Brittany Weiss and Gaby Vincent made an immediate impact for the Scorpions. Jackson and Weiss were the team's leading scorers.
"We really came on strong the second half of the season," coach Christina Bleivik said. "We were battling with teams to the last couple possessions that had previously beat us by 25 or more. We peaked in the last week with a win against Hammond and a tie against Atholton in overtime."
Mary Dudzinski scored over 200 points and averaged more than three blocks per game to help Reservoir earn an 18-5 overall record. The Gators went 13-5 in the league.
Other leaders included Emma Helmick, who had a 21-point game and point guard Darci Fehr.
Reservoir was able to beat every team in the league except county-champion Glenelg. Of the five league losses, all came to teams in the top five of the standings.
Behind guard Amy Radcliffe and forward Daija Staten, Wilde Lake finished with a 1-21 record but the program is beginning to turn the corner.
"Our program is making great improvement," coach Lisa Compofelice said. "Last year we were losing games by 20-30 points and this year a lot of our games were within 5-10 points. We are excited to see what will happen next year."
The JV county championships were held Feb. 16 at Oakland Mills High School. Here are the place winners.
106: 1. Matt Shealy, River Hill; 2. Julian Capino, Oakland Mills; 3. Sam Kraus, Glenelg; 4. Michael Strayhorn, Mt. Hebron; 5. Collin Silk, Glenelg; 6. Kyle Wiggins, Marriotts Ridge; 7. Dalton Kleinhen, Reservoir; 8. Cole Mihalik, River Hill.
113: 1. Alex Potts, River Hill; 2. Adam Miller, River Hill; 3. Henry Tin, Hammond; 4. Michael Ahumada, Oakland Mills; 5. Luke Miller, Glenelg; 6. Alex Nguyen, Mt. Hebron.
120: 1. David Cousino, Glenelg; 2. Anthony Ahumuda, Oakland Mills; 3. Romar DelaCruz, Wilde Lake; 4. Matt Shipley, River Hill; 5. Tyler Bond, River Hill; 6. Jacob Kohen, Howard.
126: 1. Jeremiah Branch, Reservoir; 2. John Parsons, Oakland Mills; 3. Sammy Routt, Centennial; 4. Tre Nelson, Marriotts Ridge; 5. Harrison Rahn, Glenelg; 6. Colin Altman, River Hill; 7. Allan Mathew, Howard; 8. Jackson Brown, Atholton.
132: 1. Eloy Flores, Mt. Hebron; 2. Anthony Presti, River Hill; 3. Carey Doody, Glenelg; 4. Alex German, Marriotts Ridge; 5. Bryce Tadios, Oakland Mills; 6. Andrew Meade, Howard.
138: 1. Andrew Blalock, Marriotts Ridge; 2. Jake Norton, Mt. Hebron; 3. Stephen Trout, Howard; 4. Prashant Gurung, Howard; 5. Andrew Mahoney, River Hill; 6. Roy Fischer, Hammond
145: 1. Omar Delen, Marriotts Ridge; 2. John Wiechett, Atholton; 3. Michael Patton, Howard; 4. Alex Asifo, Oakland Mills; 5. Ly`Qwon Gray, Wilde Lake; 6. Christopher Dornan, Glenelg.
152: 1. Nerio Bunn, Oakland Mills; 2. Zach Hines, Oakland Mills; 3. Lucas Conti, Atholton; 4. Amir Navid, Centennial; 5. Anthony Gough, Wilde Lake; 6. Kevin Rosales, Howard.
160: 1. A.J. Strott, Reservoir; 2. Matthew Murphy, Mt. Hebron; 3. Ernie Jose-Ferman, Wilde Lake; 4. Nathan Hyer, Glenelg; 5. Gage Snook, River Hill; 6. Sidique Furet, Oakland Mills.
170: 1. Cyrus Vaughn, River Hill; 2. Steven Petrillo, Reservoir; 3. Taiwo Oyekanmi, Wilde Lake; 4. Zack Neis, Marriotts Ridge; 5. Brett Reisman, River Hill; 6. Jamore Tinsley, Oakland Mills.
182: 1. Bebe Kum, River Hill; 2. Zachary Vincent, Wilde Lake; 3. Austin Day, Mt. Hebron; 4. Michael Shin, Glenelg; 5. Cody Bannar, Marriotts Ridge; 6. James Billings, Howard.
195: 1. Jacob Barke, Mt. Hebron; 2. Shane Christianson, River Hill; 3. Carlos Lucero, Centennial; 4. Kamran Ayub, River Hill; 5. Peyton Oakes, River Hill; 6. Yannick Monthe, Wilde Lake.
220: 1. Nicholas Suri, Mt. Hebron; 2. Eselebor Okojie, River Hill; 3. Culloty Desautelle, Marriotts Ridge; 4. Kristopher Gough, Wilde Lake; 5. Alex Zaldo, Marriotts Ridge; 6. Chris Johnson, River Hill.
285: 1. David McLaurin, Hammond; 2. Tyler Smith, River Hill; 3. Michael Bentivenga, Marriotts Ridge; 4. Jared Richards, River Hill; 5. Jamie Cooch, Glenelg; 6. Albert Kim, Mt. Hebron.