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)

Player of the Year

Alex McGuire Arundel, junior

The Wildcats' 5-foot-9 guard doesn't go looking for the spotlight. She just lets it come to her - much like her game.


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A well-rounded player with a dead-eye perimeter shot, McGuire averaged 25 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists, and had 114 steals this season. She broke several school and state tournament records as she led the No. 1 Wildcats to a 26-2 season, the Anne Arundel County championship and the state Class 4A crown.

"What makes her one of the better players is how she prepares to get there," said Arundel coach Lee Rogers. "Alex works very hard in practice. She has a good work ethic on the court and in the classroom. I think it starts in the classroom. She knows what goals she wants to reach and she works hard to reach all of those goals."

As a result, McGuire is a 4.0 student and Arundel High's all-time leading scorer.

The two-time Anne Arundel County Player of the Year and repeat All-Metro selection enjoyed a fitting end to an outstanding season. In the state Class 4A final, she scored 34 points and went 18-for-18 from the free-throw line as the Wildcats beat No. 4 Woodlawn, 87-64.

In that contest, McGuire set a state record for most free throws in a tournament game. In addition, no one had ever shot 100 percent from the line on so many attempts.

She also had five rebounds, six steals and four assists in the final. For the tournament, she went 25-for-26 from the free-throw line.

Even though McGuire still has a year to go, her name is already all over the Wildcats' record book, too. She scored 700 points, a single-season record, en route to becoming the program's quickest player to reach 1,000 points. By season's end, she had scored 1,517 points in her three-year career.


Coach of the Year

Kevin Lawrence Westminster

The 28-year-old Maryland graduate accepted a huge challenge when he took over a reeling Westminster program last fall. Reluctant to accept the position at first, Lawrence guided the No. 11 Owls to a 20-5 season, the Carroll County championship and the Class 4A North regional final.

The Owls program had been torn apart in January 2003 when nine players were suspended for the season after attending a party in which alcohol was served.

Lawrence's job was to bring a team in turmoil back together. His background as an assistant coach at Delone Catholic in Philadelphia and Gettysburg College and as an Amateur Athletic Union coach had not prepared him for this.

"It's difficult enough to take responsibility for a group of 40 teenaged girls," said Lawrence, "let alone under the circumstances that this team had coming out of last season."

To counter any leftover turmoil, Lawrence encouraged team bonding trips right from the start.

"Five days into the season, we took 36 kids to dinner and the movies, because we wanted them to get to know one another off the court. That makes things go a lot better when you're down by two with eight seconds left."

The strategy paid off. Led by All-Carroll County forwards Jen Walkling and Emily Bollinger, the Owls got back on a winning course. In the regional final, they came within 53-49 of eventual state finalist and No. 4 Woodlawn.

"The girls demonstrated a lot of maturity to put the past behind them and move forward together," said Lawrence.


First team

Andrea Dodrill Bryn Mawr, senior

The 6-foot power forward left her mark on the Mawrtians' program by becoming the first in school history to score 1,000 points and grab 1,000 rebounds. Her 1,406 career points are the most in school history.

Those career numbers reflect a season in which Dodrill was second in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference in scoring (17 points) and rebounding (12) after leading the conference in both categories a year ago. One of her best outings was a 16-point, 14-rebound effort against conference champ St. Frances.

A repeat first-team pick, she continued to lead her team at both ends of the court as the only starting senior. Her post game was difficult to handle, but she could also hit from the perimeter, sending one game into overtime with a three-pointer.

Dodrill will play next season at Johns Hopkins.

Timisha Gomez Long Reach, senior

The 5-foot-8 guard was at her best wreaking havoc on opposing offenses, forcing turnovers, grabbing rebounds and igniting the Lightning's transition game.

As a result, the Howard County Player of the Year led the No. 17 Lightning in four statistical categories, averaging 16.6 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4.3 steals and 3.1 assists.

Her role took on even greater importance when Long Reach lost senior forward Whitney Ward to a season-ending knee injury with seven games left.

Gomez helped the Lightning (20-3) to the best overall record in school history as well as the best county mark (18-2). She finished her career as the program's all-time leading scorer with 1,406 career points.

A two-time Street & Smith's preseason honorable mention All-American, Gomez will continue her career at Saint Joseph's.

Chandrea Jones Institute of Notre Dame, junior

The Baltimore City/County Player of the Year has been a regular on the All-Metro first team for three straight years.

Throughout her career, the 5-foot-9 guard has proven nearly impossible to stop on offense, setting a school record for career scoring with 1,625 points.

Her scoring average increased to 24.6 this season, up from 16.1 as a sophomore. Showing an uncanny knack for anticipating where the ball will go, Jones demonstrated a strong drive to the hoop, but she could also hit from long range.

She hit four or more three-pointers in 10 games and finished the season with 70. She scored 40 points twice.

Also averaging 10.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 5.5 steals for the No. 7 Indians, Jones posted 19 double doubles and two triple doubles.

Renee Jones Walbrook, senior

Playing on an otherwise inexperienced team, Jones faced a lot of defenses designed to stop her. None of them could.

The 5-foot-8 guard led the metro area in scoring (26.9 points). With a repertoire of moves to the hoop and a range of more than 21 feet, Jones could take a defender off the dribble or pull up for a three-pointer.

Jones scored 45 or more points twice and was right near her average against the best teams the Warriors played. She scored 28 against Baltimore City champ City and 22 before fouling out in the third quarter against Dunbar. In the regional semifinal, she scored 25 against No. 11 Westminster.

She also averaged 13.4 rebounds, 3.1 steals and 2.5 assists.

A repeat first-team All-Metro selection, Jones completed her career with 1,399 points and 1,049 rebounds.

Dani Kell Roland Park, senior

After an All-Metro junior year in which she had to score a lot of points for the No. 3 Reds to win, Kell became a more well-rounded contributor.

She still led the team in scoring (13 points) and also grabbed 6.5 rebounds a game. But facing a lot of gimmick defenses and box-and-ones designed to stop her, she was content to involve her teammates more in the offense, dishing out 4.8 assists per game.

A 6-foot guard, Kell enjoyed a height advantage over most of her opponents. She used that to post up smaller guards, but she could also take taller players off the dribble. Kell became a better defensive player this season, as well.

Kell finished her four-year career as the second-leading scorer in Reds history with 1,236 points. She will play next season at William & Mary.

Angel McCoughtry St. Frances, senior

Last season's All-Metro Player of the Year and a three-time All-Metro selection, McCoughtry continued to lead the No. 2 Panthers with her strong inside game.

Her quickness enabled the agile 6-foot-1 forward to take over a game at either end of the floor. Down the stretch, her play proved critical as she grabbed key rebounds and steals and provided big plays throughout the Panthers' run to their second straight Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference crown - their third in her four years.

McCoughtry had 20 points, nine rebounds and two blocks in the 45-32 title-game victory over Roland Park. She averaged 16 points, 12 rebounds and three steals for the season.

Next year, McCoughtry, who completed her career with 1,322 points and 1,150 rebounds, will move on to St. John's.

Brittney Taylor Woodlawn, junior

The key component in the No. 4 Warriors' potent transition game, Taylor could come up with a steal or run the floor and finish the play.

Many of her points came in transition, including most of the 22 she scored in the state Class 4A final, an 87-64 loss to No. 1 Arundel that set a state tournament record for most points scored by both teams. She scored her 1,000th career point in the Warriors' second straight appearance in the final.

Taylor, a 5-foot-7 guard, has used her versatility and quickness to spark the Warriors on offense throughout her career. This season, she averaged nine steals and cashed in most of them. She averaged 14.2 points and 6.3 assists.

A first-team All-Metro pick last season, Taylor helped the Warriors to their second straight Baltimore County title.

Ashley Thomas River Hill, senior

Thomas wasn't concerned about putting up big numbers. She simply provided anything the No. 8 Hawks needed, especially on defense.

The 5-foot-8 forward always drew the toughest defensive assignments. In the first meeting with Howard County-rival Long Reach, she held Timisha Gomez to eight points. She led her team in steals with 4.9 per game.

Thomas also could create offense. A strong perimeter shooter, she averaged 12.6 points and led the Hawks in assists with 3.3. She also averaged 6.3 rebounds, grabbing 18 when 6-4 teammate Brittany Gordon was out of the regional playoff game against Douglass.

Thomas, who will play next season at Radford, accomplished all of that despite a recurring shoulder problem. She suffered a dislocated left shoulder three times.

Jen Walkling Westminster, senior

The Carroll County Player of the Year became much more of a factor after hitting the weight room during the offseason. That allowed the 6-foot forward to outmuscle opponents in the paint.

Walkling established herself as the workhorse of the No. 11 Owls, who finished 20-5, won the Carroll County title and reached the Class 4A North region final. She dominated in the paint, hitting more than 57 percent of her shots and averaging 12.2 points.

She proved to be an equally strong presence on defense, making it difficult for opponents to take uncontested shots and coming away with a county-best 11.2 rebounds per game.

Walkling, who will play next season at Fairleigh Dickinson, also brought enthusiasm and intensity that added an extra dimension to the team.


Second team

Ana Baker, Arundel, Junior Guard

Bri Gauthier, St. Mary's, Junior Guard

Heather Landis, Chapelgate, Senior Guard

Sarah Meisenberg, Severn, Junior Guard

Shawna Scott, Milford Mill, Junior Guard

Shadae Swan, St. Frances, Senior Guard

Rachel Braver, McDonogh, Senior Forward

Ronda Shelley, Woodlawn, Senior Forward

Krystal Vaughn, Lake Clifton, Senior Forward

Brittany Gordon, River Hill, Junior Center

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


Final poll

1. Arundel 26-2
2. St. Frances 24-3
3. Roland Park 22-6
4. Woodlawn 24-4
5. Western 23-3
6. McDonogh 19-6
7. Institute of Notre Dame 18-7
8. River Hill 23-2
9. Seton Keough 19-9
10. Milford Mill 20-4
11. Westminster 20-5
12. Severn 24-3
13. St. Paul's 19-6
14. Glenelg 19-6
15. City 22-3
16. South River 21-5
17. Long Reach 20-3
18. Southside 17-7
19. Aberdeen 20-4
20. Dunbar 15-9
Other teams considered: Bryn Mawr (11-14), Catonsville (17-7), Fallston (18-7), St. Mary's (15-10), Towson Catholic (17-8).