PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Angel McCoughtry St. Frances, junior

St. Frances forward Angel McCoughtry averaged 14.4 points, 10.5 rebounds and 3.2 steals per game. She had two triple doubles this season - points, rebounds and steals - and has three for her career.


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Trying to overcome all the aspects of McCoughtry's game proved to be impossible for opponents.

The key component and leader behind the Panthers' wire-to-wire run as the area's No. 1 team, McCoughtry could change a game on either end of the court. With her athleticism, quickness and tenacity, she could dominate the inside, outleap everyone for rebounds and pick off passes in the paint.

McCoughtry, an All-Metro first-team selection last season, led the Panthers (26-2) to their second Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championship in three years.

Even on the few occasions when she struggled with her offense, she still pounded the boards and wreaked havoc on defense.

"Angel's game is all about second effort, and you can't coach that. That's what she brings to every game and that's what separates her from other players," said Panthers coach Jerome Shelton.

In the 48-32 championship victory over the No. 4 Institute of Notre Dame, she scored only six points but made up for it with 10 rebounds, four steals and a terrific defensive effort.

"She's just one of those truly gifted athletes who's tough to defend," said Mercy coach Mary Ella Marion. "She does so many things well. If one particular area of her game is not on that day, she goes to another area whether its penetration, offensive boards or defense. She has so many weapons in her game you can't really play to one area of her game."

McCoughtry averaged 14.4 points, 10.5 rebounds and 3.2 steals to lead the Panthers to a sweep of every A Conference opponent. She had two triple doubles this season - points, rebounds and steals - and has three for her career.

COACH OF THE YEAR

Jerome Shelton St. Frances

In his 12th season with the Panthers, Shelton put on a clinic on how to keep players happy.

On the deepest bench the Panthers have ever had, Shelton had a lot of reserves who would could have started in other programs. That wealth of talent proved to be a blessing, but it could have created a lot of problems because there simply weren't enough minutes to go around.

However, Shelton folded two top-notch players (Angel McCoughtry and Shadae Swan), a host of role players looking to move up and three high-caliber transfers into a team that held onto the No. 1 ranking through the entire season.

Not only did the Panthers (26-2) win the Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference tournament, but they did not lose to a single conference foe all season.

"Our theme this year was `Excellence Together,' " said Shelton. "We try to get people to focus on sacrificing some points and some minutes for wins and everyone bought into that."

Shelton, the Baltimore City/County Coach of the Year, has guided the Panthers to four league titles - two in the past three years in the IAAM A Conference and two previously in the Catholic League.

"They're all special," said Shelton, whose career record stands at 228-115. "Each team is different. This team was in a horse race from the beginning and we ran the race tough and true the whole year. Everybody stayed together. They wanted to win for each other and that's what separates them in my mind."

FIRST TEAM

Megan Buescher River Hill, senior

Playing defense and assisting her teammates made up the greater part of the unselfish forward's stellar all-around game.

Buescher, six feet, finished her career as the No. 5 Hawks' all-time leader in steals with 303 and ranks third in rebounds with 439. She also amassed 829 career points, which coach Teresa Waters said easily could have been more, but Buescher never passed up the chance for an assist. She dished out 189 over four years, second on the Hawks' all-time list.

Her team's most valuable defensive player, Buescher was often assigned to guard the opponent's most potent player. She averaged 11.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.6 steals and 3.2 assists.

Also an All-Metro soccer player, Buescher has opted to play that sport this fall at North Carolina State.

Andrea Dodrill Bryn Mawr, junior

A second-team All-Metro selection last season, Dodrill accomplished perhaps the most difficult combination in area girls basketball - leading the IAAM A Conference in scoring and rebounding.

The 6-foot-1 forward averaged 18.1 points and 12.3 rebounds. She proved tough to match up against, shooting 45 percent from the field despite drawing double and triple teams.

A strong low post player since her freshman year, Dodrill expanded her game to become a more versatile offensive threat. She runs the floor better, attacks the basket by putting the ball on the floor more and can hit from about 15 feet.

During the three-day Comet Classic holiday tournament at Catonsville, she averaged 22 points and 15 rebounds. She scored 23 points and grabbed 20 rebounds in a 50-39 loss to four-time state champion Dunbar in that tournament.

Jeanell Hughes Western, senior

The metro area's top scorer combined a brash offensive game with a fiery leadership style to spark the No. 11 Doves to one of the most remarkable turnarounds of the season.

Not only did Hughes come back strong from a broken jaw suffered in a game just before Christmas, but she rallied the Doves to a 59-55 victory over Dunbar for the Baltimore City championship. Just four weeks earlier, the Doves had lost to Dunbar by 43 points.

A multitalented 5-foot-9 swing player who made every move with confidence, Hughes averaged 26.8 points per game. She could penetrate and hit from three-point range, but she also ran the floor well as the young Doves often relied on her to complete their transition game.

Hughes, who is considering several college options, finished her career with 1,010 points.

Chandrea Jones Inst. of Notre Dame, sophomore

The 5-foot-9 guard showed no signs of a sophomore slump after earning first-team All-Metro honors as a freshman. She opened the season with a quadruple double - 20 points, 13 steals 12 rebounds and 10 assists - in a win over Catholic.

Her combination of athleticism and ball-handling skills gave Jones an edge on most other players. Add in her tenacity and Jones proved tough to stop on drives to the basket and effective from as far away as 20 feet.

Despite drawing a lot more defensive attention than she did last season, Jones scored 16 points and also grabbed 7.8 rebounds per game. Her scoring numbers were down from 18 last season, but she made up for it by boosting her assist average to 3.6.

Jones scored half of her team's points in a 44-40 victory over Roland Park in the IAAM A Conference semifinals.

Renee Jones Walbrook, junior

On a young team that included several girls playing organized basketball for the first time, Jones took the Warriors (12-10) as far as she could. Opponents threw all kinds of defensive strategies at her, but the 5-foot-8 forward/guard handled them all, emerging as the second-leading scorer in the metro area with a 24-point average.

In addition, Jones averaged 16.6 rebounds, 3.1 steals, 2.7 assists and 2.3 blocks per game.

Jones, who twice scored 40 or more points, proved a versatile, accurate offensive threat, driving for layups and hitting from three-point range. She shot 53 percent from the field.

In the season-ending 95-58 regional playoff loss to No. 3 Woodlawn, she showcased all her skills. Hitting fade-away 15-footers and driving through traffic, Jones scored 27 points.

Dani Kell Roland Park, junior

A multitalented 6-foot guard, Kell presented opponents with a matchup dilemma.

Put a smaller guard on her and she would post her up. Send a taller player to take her away from the basket and she could break her down with the dribble. She also hit six three-pointers in a game three times this season.

Kell got off to a quick start with 28 points in the season opener against Cardinal Dougherty from Philadelphia, ranked No. 10 in the East in USA Today at the time. She went on to average 14.4 points, six rebounds and 3.7 assists.

Taking on a greater role, Kell not only provided much of the scoring, but she could handle the ball and played the point against the press.

She scored 16 in a mid-season upset of IND. In the season finale, a 44-40 loss to the Indians in the IAAM A Conference semifinal, she scored 17 and had seven rebounds and four assists.

Alex McGuire Arundel, sophomore

The Anne Arundel County Player of the Year, McGuire, 5 feet 9, led the No. 2 Wildcats to the top of the county league and a strong run at the state Class 4A championship.

It didn't take her long to show all the layers in her game. The Wildcats' leading scorer moved from guard to forward this season and more than held her own against taller post players.

McGuire, who averaged 18 points and 7.8 rebounds and shot 56.4 percent from the field, scored 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the 63-60 loss in the state semifinals to towering Winston Churchill, the eventual champion.

She had a terrific stretch run as the Wildcats rolled through the East region by an average margin of victory of 33 points. McGuire put up her best numbers against some of the toughest foes, scoring 25 and 26 in two games against No. 10 Severna Park and a season-high 28 against No. 14 Meade.

Brittney Taylor Woodlawn, sophomore

On a team without a senior, Taylor provided the spark for the No. 3 Warriors' run to the state Class 4A final and their first Baltimore County championship in 12 years.

The 5-foot-7 guard made a lot of clutch plays down the stretch, including hitting the game-winning shot - a short runner - in the state semifinal victory over Oxon Hill. She also assisted on the key basket that sent the Warriors to the final four for the second straight year.

Averaging seven steals and seven assists along with 12 points, Taylor was capable of starting things or finishing them off in the Warriors' potent transition game.

Taylor, a good outside shooter not afraid to do battle inside, scored eight of her 13 points in a second-half run in the state Class 4A final. The loss to Churchill ended an unbeaten run for the Warriors.

Kristen Waagbo Mount Hebron, senior

Everyone in Howard County knew the only way to stop the Vikings was to stop Waagbo. Try as they might, no teams could manage that feat.

For the second straight year, the 6-foot forward led the county in scoring and picked up Howard County Player of the Year honors. Facing double and sometimes triple teams, Waagbo scored 20.1 points per game. She led her team in scoring in every game and contributed 44.1 percent of the No. 8 Vikings' total offense.

With a smooth jump shot and a strong post game, she completed her Mount Hebron career with 1,496 points, placing her second on the school's rich all-time list behind Doreatha Beck, the county record holder with 1,676 points.

The Sun's Female Athlete of the Year in 2001-02, Waagbo was selected All-Metro in basketball and lacrosse as a junior. She has signed to play lacrosse at Duke.

Second team

Name School Class Position

Jessie Collins Arundel Senior Guard

Bri Gauthier St. Mary's Sophomore Guard

Laura Hostetler River Hill Senior Guard

Jessica Norris Severna Park Senior Guard

Shadae Swan St. Frances Junior Guard

Emily Bollinger Westminster Junior Forward

Qiana Cheatham Milford Mill Senior Forward

C'Vette Henson Annapolis Senior Forward

Shalane Price Dunbar Senior Forward

Ronda Shelley Woodlawn Junior Forward

Note: Teams selected by Katherine Dunn after consultation with The Sun staff and area coaches.