Rudy Gay, Alex McGuire and Will Thomas

Archbishop Spalding's Rudy Gay, Arundel's Alex McGuire and Mount St. Joseph's Will Thomas (Sun photo by Gene Sweeney Jr. / March 22, 2004)

PLAYERS OF THE YEAR

Rudy Gay
Archbishop Spalding, senior


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Few players have burst onto the national stage in just one summer as the 6-foot-9 Gay did. Gay's showing at national camps resulted in his stock rising from a top-100 player to a top-10 player. He also received the prestige of being named a McDonald's All-American.

An All-Metro pick as a junior, Gay grew two inches and put on 15 pounds in the offseason. He also fined-tuned his high flying act and signed with Connecticut before the start of the season.

The result was a senior season in which the multi-talented forward with long arms and an exceptional wing span averaged 21.2 points, 9.2 rebounds and 3.9 blocks. Gay played above the rim, but he also can launch three-pointers from NBA distance or hit short jumpers off his variety of spin moves.

Fans turned out in big numbers to see Gay put on a show and they rarely were disappointed. Gay won the Jerry Savage Player of the Year award for the Baltimore Catholic League regular season and led the No. 2 Cavaliers (29-8) to the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference tournament title over then-No. 1 Cardinal Gibbons, 64-45.

In the MIAA final, Gay, who was named to the Alhambra all-tournament team, scored 29 points, 14 coming on seven spectacular dunks, grabbed 10 rebounds and had three steals in front of a record crowd at Gilman.

Gay finished his two years at Spalding with 1,181 points, the third-highest total in school history. Including his first two years at Eastern Tech, Gay had 1,588 career points.

His ability to block shots or make opponents alter them, coupled with having the quickness of a guard, led a Cavaliers defense that was 22-1 when holding teams under 60 points.

Gay will play in the McDonald's All-American game March 31 in Oklahoma City, Okla., as well as the Jordan Capital Classic April 17 at Comcast Center.

Will Thomas Mount St. Joseph, senior

Gaels coach Pat Clatchey says the 6-foot-7 Thomas "has to go down as the best player in St. Joe history.

"He's accomplished things nobody else has. He led us to six championships in two years and that's pretty phenomenal."

Thomas, who has accepted a scholarship to George Mason University, led the Gaels to back-to-back regular season and tournament championships, an 82-17 overall record in three varsity seasons and the program's first No. 1 ranking.

Thomas led the Gaels to Baltimore Catholic League tournament final wins over Spalding the past two seasons and was named BCL tournament Most Valuable Player both times. Overall, the Gaels were 6-0 against Spalding the past two years.

Thomas joined standouts such as St. Frances' Mark Karcher, Derrick Snowden of Spalding and Rodney Monroe of St. Maria Goretti as players earning multiple tournament MVP awards.

After leading Mount St. Joseph (29-6) to its first-ever BCL title as a junior, Thomas held Spalding All-American Rudy Gay to 10 points while scoring 12, grabbing 13 rebounds and blocking four shots in a 36-33 victory in this season's championship game.

Averaging 18.3 points, 12.1 rebounds, three blocks and three steals, Thomas was a repeat selection to the All-Metro, MIAA A Conference and BCL regular-season and tournament teams.

Thomas finished his high school career with a school-record 1,631 points. He will play in the Charm City Challenge on April 4 at Towson University.


Coach of the Year

Pat Clatchey Mount St. Joseph

Clatchey led the Gaels to repeat championships in both the Baltimore Catholic League and the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference. They also finished as The Sun's No. 1 team for the first time in school history.

Under Clatchey, a Mount St. Joseph graduate in his 12th season as coach, the Gaels (29-6) lost only three games locally, two in the regular season to No. 6 St. Frances and No. 16 McDonogh, and to No. 7 Cardinal Gibbons in the MIAA A Conference semifinals.

The Gaels, who won their first-ever BCL regular-season and tournament titles last season, faced a major challenge from Archbishop Spalding and McDonald's All-American Rudy Gay this season.

Clatchey, who was named the BCL O. Ray Mullis Coach of the Year by his peers for a third straight season, and his Gaels were more than up to it, sweeping the powerful Cavaliers in three games. The Gaels outlasted No. 2 Spalding, 63-58, in double overtime; 76-75 in overtime; and 36-33 in the BCL final.

"There were no egos on this team," said Clatchey, 41, who is a physical education teacher at Our Lady of Victory.

"They checked their egos at the door and were committed to winning and being the best they could be. They had no hidden agenda. They just wanted to win."


FIRST TEAM

Jermaine Bolden Douglass, senior

Bolden led the Ducks to their second Class 3A state title in three years.

The 5-foot-8 Bolden, who is quick and athletic, was the team's floor general and most consistent player. A repeat first-team pick, he averaged 17.6 points, four assists, three steals and three rebounds.

His steady play and leadership carried the No. 4 Ducks (20-5) to the 3A state title with wins over Linganore (72-58 in the semifinals) and Gwynn Park (66-65 in double overtime in the final).

Bolden will play in the Charm Charm City Challenge on April 4 at Towson University.

Paris Carter Lake Clifton, senior

Carter's versatility as a 6-foot-4 swingman led the No. 10 Lakers to a 19-5 record.

Shifting from guard to small forward for coach Herman Harried, Carter, a second-team All-Metro pick last season and a two-time All-Baltimore City/County choice, averaged a team-high 19.1 points.

When second-team All-Metro guard Chester Frazier transferred from Mervo to Lake Clifton this year, he and Carter gave the Lakers an outstanding and unselfish backcourt.

Carter, who also averaged three rebounds and three assists, scored a season-high 25 in a 59-45 win over Prince George's County's Eleanor Roosevelt, the 20th-ranked team in the Washington area.

Lance Fuller Woodlawn, senior

Fuller led the No. 5 Warriors (22-4) to the Baltimore County championship, their first appearance in the state final four since 1989 and their highest ranking since the 1992-93 season.

His 48 points in two games led the Warriors to their first wins over defending county champion Randallstown in five years. Woodlawn swept the No. 13 Rams by 71-61 and 70-68 in overtime.

Fuller, a 5-foot-9 guard, had a game-high 19 points in a 62-37 rout of No. 15 Lansdowne for the Warriors' first county title since 1999. He had a game-high 20 points in a 53-51 win over No. 10 Lake Clifton for the 4A North region title, and 10 points in a 59-58 loss to Springbrook in the 4A semifinals.

Fuller, who was named Baltimore County Co-Player of the Year with Lansdowne's Barry Cornish, averaged 18.6 points, 6.5 assists, five rebounds and three steals. He'll play in the Charm City Challenge on April 4 at Towson University.

Mitch Guest Glen Burnie, senior

A three-year starter for the No. 8 Gophers, Guest is the school's all-time leading scorer with 1,351 career points. The 5-foot-8 guard led Anne Arundel County in scoring this season, averaging 21.9 points.

Guest, who can drive the lane or take it outside (he shot 51 percent from the field), ranks ninth on the county's all-time public school career scoring list.

The Gophers set a school record for wins (23-4) and repeated as region champion for the first time in school history, as Guest averaged 6.3 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 3.5 steals.

Glen Burnie lost in the 4A state semifinals for the second straight year when Guest's potential game-tying shot was blocked to give eventual state champion Northwestern of Prince George's County a 58-56 win.

Guest, who had 13 points in the semifinal and a career-high 41 points in a 74-58 win over Patuxent in December, will play in the Charm City Challenge on April 4 at Towson University.

Darnell Harris St. Frances, senior

Harris, a quick 6-foot-2 guard with a sharp eye from the perimeter, was the go-to guy for the No. 6 Panthers (26-7).

Named to all-league teams for the Baltimore Catholic League and MIAA A Conference, Harris averaged 19.5 points, four rebounds and four assists for the BCL tournament semifinalists.

Harris had 22 points in the Panthers' 70-68 loss to No. 2 Archbishop Spalding in the BCL semifinals. He had 25 points twice against No. 7 Cardinal Gibbons, and made six three-pointers in the second half and scored 21 of his 23 points in the last 16 minutes in a regular-season loss to Spalding.

Fordham, La Salle, Manhattan and Temple are interested in Harris, who will play in the Charm City Challenge April 4 at Towson University.

Nathan Irby Dunbar, junior

A scrappy 6-foot guard, Irby had a penchant for making big plays for the Class 1A state champion Poets (23-2).

Irby, an All-Metro defensive back, averaged 11.6 points and led the team in assists (4.8) and steals (5.8), igniting the No. 3 Poets in several big games.

He had five steals in a 77-54 romp over Cambridge-South Dorchester in the state semifinals, and 10 points and four assists in a 68-43 rout of Allegany in the championship game.

Irby had a game-high 15 points and was 3-for-4 from the line in the closing minutes as Dunbar defeated No. 9 Southern, 54-48, to give the Poets their first Baltimore City title since 2001.

Dunbar then edged Southern, 46-44, in the Class 1A North regional final, as Irby scored a team-high 14.

Jamal Smith Towson Catholic, senior

After signing early with Wagner, the 6-foot-4 forward was having a productive final season with the No. 12 Owls when he severely sprained his right ankle.

Smith missed five games but re- turned in time for the MIAA A Conference playoffs. In his first game back, a 60-51 loss to No. 6 St. Frances, Smith overcame a slow start to score eight of his game-high 16 points in the final period to go with seven rebounds.

Smith, who averaged 18.4 points and 9.6 rebounds, then led the Owls (21-12) with 15 points in a 53-45 upset of then-No. 1 Cardinal Gibbons in the BCL quarterfinals.

Named to both the BCL and MIAA A Conference all-league teams, Smith had a game-high 18 points and seven rebounds in a 57-43 BCL semifinal loss to defending champion Mount St. Joseph. He was named to the BCL All-Tournament team and will play in the Charm City Challenge on April 4 at Towson University.

Leon Williams Cardinal Gibbons, senior

Williams was the driving force behind the No. 7 Crusaders' best season since 1984-85. Gibbons went 27-7, finishing as the runner-up in the MIAA A Conference tournament.

The 6-foot-8 Williams, who is headed to Ohio University, dominated at his center position. He averaged 17.8 points and 12.5 rebounds and was named to both the BCL and MIAA A Conference all-league teams.

Williams had 21 points and 15 rebounds in a 76-73 victory over DeMatha on Dec. 2, the Crusaders' first-ever win over the Stags.

In perhaps the Crusaders' biggest win of the season, a 60-51 upset of then-No. 1 Mount St. Joseph in the MIAA A Conference semifinals, Williams had 11 points and a game-high 17 rebounds - 11 on the defensive side - to propel Gibbons to the No. 1 ranking for the first time in more than 10 years.

Williams will play in the Charm City Challenge on April 4 at Towson University.


Second team

Chester Frazier, Lake Clifton, Senior Guard

Jerell Green, Southern-B, Senior Guard

Ken Hasbrouck, Cardinal Gibbons, Senior Guard

Brian Johnson, Mount St. Joseph, Junior Guard

Mike Smelkinson ,Long Reach, Senior Guard

Barry Cornish, Lansdowne, Senior Forward

Barry Jenifer, Dunbar, Senior Forward

Troy Smith, Douglass, Junior Forward

Branden Albert, Glen Burnie, Senior Center

Phil Vornadore, Fallston, Junior Center

Note: Teams selected by Pat O'Malley after consultation with The Sun staff and area coaches.


FINAL POLL

1. Mount St. Joseph 29-6
2. Archbishop Spalding 29-8
3. Dunbar 23-2
4. Douglass 20-5
5. Woodlawn 22-4
6. St. Frances 26-7
7. Cardinal Gibbons 27-7
8. Glen Burnie 23-4
9. Southern-B 21-4
10. Lake Clifton 19-5
11. Walbrook 19-5
12. Towson Catholic 21-12
13. Randallstown 20-6
14. Aberdeen 18-7
15. Lansdowne 22-5
16. McDonogh 16-13
17. Bel Air 21-3
18. Severna Park 18-8
19. Wilde Lake 19-6
20. Long Reach 19-5
Other teams considered: Old Mill (18-6), Dulaney (17-7), Atholton (16-8), Liberty (15-7), Mervo (16-6).