Sophomore Jordan Oates previews the Dragons’ 2017-18 season on Nov. 27.
HOWARD COUNTY, MD — 2016-17 record: 9-7 MIAA A, 19-10
Coach: Garrett O'Donnell (first year)
Top players: Seniors Caidon Owen (G), Dragan Hornatko (G); juniors Chase Paar (F); sophomores Noah Charles (G), Jordan Oates (G) and Jarrod Robinson (G).
What you need to know: For starters, Glenelg Country is in no way similar to the team it had a year ago. Coach Garrett O’Donnell said the Dragons lost six of their top seven players from last season, including Howard County co-Player of the Year Anthony Longpre, who now plays at St. Joseph’s University. Their departures left senior Caidon Owen (8.7 points per game) as the leading returning scorer.
O’Donnell is also new. After spending the past two seasons as an assistant coach at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, O’Donnell replaced Kevin Quinlan in April.
As a result, O’Donnell plans to judge his team’s success this season on more than where it finishes in the MIAA A Conference standings.
“I’m going to judge this year on effort and growth,” O'Donnell said. “We’ve got such a young an inexperienced group that I think everything that they see, they will be seeing for the first time. So when they see it the second and third time, will they be able to adapt, adjust and overcome it?”
O’Donnell praised the intensity, unselfishness and will to win of Owen, the only returning player with substantial varsity experience. Dragan Hornatko and Chase Paar were on varsity last year but rarely saw the floor.
He expects both players to make significant contributions this season.
The graduation of Division I guards Isaiah Burnett (Navy) and Jalen Gabbidon (Yale) opened up a starting backcourt spot for Hornatko, a 16-year-old senior O’Donnell thinks will “surprise some people.” But Paar’s production shouldn’t come as a surprise. He’s always possessed the skills and work ethic to excel on this level, O’Donnell said, but the opportunities haven’t always been there. Last season, he dealt with injuries and played behind Longpre.
The Dragons opened the season with a convincing 69-45 win over Chapelgate in the Route 40 Classic on Nov. 27. Owen and Paar scored in double figures, but it was sophomore Jordan Oates who led the way for the Dragons. In his first varsity game, Oates put together a 19-point performance to start the Dragons’ season on a promising note.