As the lone defender under the Laurel High School basket, junior Kirk Hawkins braced himself as Bowie High began a three-on-one fastbreak against the Spartans.

Hawkins, who is quick but only 5 feet 7, managed to steal an entry pass and feverishly began to dribble toward the opposite basket.

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The point guard, as he is inclined to do, passed to one of his teammates, who hoisted a shot from the outside only to see the ball clang off the rim.

The ball caromed to Hawkins, who had slipped through the taller Bowie defenders.

The Laurel High dynamo then banked in a shot in the paint to cap a sequence that had seen him steal the ball at one end of the floor and score a basket at the other in the third quarter.

That is not the normal way that Hawkins has been scoring this season for the Spartans. But nonetheless he has been scoring in a variety of ways – on shots from the outside and frenetic drives to the basket – while averaging 19.4 points and 5 assists through 19 games this season.

"He plays hard. He is a kid that doesn't give up," said Bowie High coach Cedric Holbrook. "Everyone would love to have a kid like that on their team. The kid has ability. The sky is the limit for a kid like that. He has another year to get better."

Hawkins is a pass-first point guard who has been called on to score more this season out of necessity. "He doesn't have a lot of help" on offense, Holbrook noted. "As those (teammates) get older he will be able to show his ability more as a distributor."

"He has had a pretty good year. With his speed and quickness he gets to the basket fairly easily," said Laurel coach Torrence Oxendine, who said Hawkins is receiving attention from Division II schools. "His primary objective is to get his teammates involved. He has been doing what we ask."

Hawkins began playing youth basketball with the Maryland City Mustangs as a young boy. He later moved to Howard County then entered Laurel High as a freshman.

"I grew up playing basketball and it was something I was dedicated to," Hawkins said.

He grew up watching NBA players Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers and John Wall of the Washington Wizards. And a little of the Harlem Globetrotters seems to have rubbed off on Hawkins, with his fancy dribbling.

"I would go home and do that stuff. I got pretty good at it," he said.

In a home game earlier this month Hawkins had 16 points in the first half against Bowie, which led by one at intermission. He continued to look to pass to his teammates in the second half, even though there were times the best chance for Laurel to score would have been if Hawkins took the shot himself.

Bowie pulled away from the Spartans and led 57-45 in the third quarter. Laurel trimmed the margin to 57-52 early in the fourth quarter before Bowie took a 72-54 lead with 3:35 left in the game.

Bowie won the game 76-65 but Hawkins ended up with 25 points as Laurel fell to 5-13 overall.

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Before this season Oxendine said he expected Hawkins to average about "12 to 15 points" per game. But Hawkins has done better than that, and he is quick to credit his teammates.

"We have to play hard. If we play hard we can win games," Hawkins said. "I expect us to play hard."

Notes: Keith Coutreyer, the former Laurel High boys coach, is the associate head coach at Howard University. The Bison were 12-12 overall and 6-4 in the MEAC going into a conference game on Feb. 14 at Coppin State in Baltimore … Pallotti graduate Jeff Holland, from West Laurel, is a freshman for the men's team at Division III Catholic University. The Cardinals, ranked No. 16 in the country at the time, won their 20th game of the season with their 14th win a row on Feb. 11 at Goucher of Towson. Holland came off the bench in 14 of the first 23 games and was averaging about five minutes and two points per game.

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