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PLEYO'S NEXT BASKET WILL MAKE HISTORY FOR NORTHEAST

THE BALTIMORE SUN

When Gene Pleyo hits his first bucket tomorrow night at home in Pasadena against Arundel High (7-11), the talented guard will become the all-time leading scorer in Northeast boys basketball history.

Pleyo banged in 21 points Friday night at home in a 97-70 loss to South River (16-3), and that brought his career points total to 950, tying 1987 All-County player John McKinley for the all-time Eagles lead.

McKinley, a 6-foot-7 center, averaged 20.4 points a game in his final season of 1986-1987. Pleyo, a four-year starter for Coach JohnnyBarbour, is averaging 18.5 points a game in his final season after averaging 14.3 points per as an Anne Arundel County Sun second team All-County pick his junior year.

Pleyo, a Baltimore Sun All-Metro honorable mention last year, has been outstanding in what has been a rough season for the Eagles. Northeast is 5-13 and headed toward its first losing season since his freshman year of 1988-1989, when the Eagles went 5-17.

With Pleyo guiding the offense the last two years, Northeast was 17-7 (1989-1990) and 16-8 (1990-1991), but this year, despite

an abundance of returning seniors, the Eagles have slumped badly.

Pleyo's supporting cast is not what it was the last two seasons, with the likes of Steve Strauss, an All-County first-teamer who averaged 19.2 points a game last year, plus Craig Everett and Kevin Mursch.

In Pleyo's sophomore season, the 6-foot-1 backcourter was surrounded by All-County forward Andy Srebroski, who averaged 18.1 points a game and set school records for steals. Strauss and Mursch, a 6-2 center, also played on that team.

This year fellow senior ScottRey, a 6-4 senior guard averaging 15.4 points a game, has been the only other consistent Eagle to complement Pleyo.

"Gene has gone about playing the way he always has for us," Barbour said. "He goes out and does his job every night no matter what the result."

Evidence of that was his game against South River Friday and a 25-point effortTuesday in a 69-59 victory over North County (0-19). Pleyo also had six rebounds, four assists and two steals.

"With four games to go (counting Arundel tomorrow night), Gene only needs 50 points to become the first player ever at Northeast to hit 1,000 career points," Barbour said.

Cracking the 1,000-point milestone at Northeast will bequite an honor for Pleyo, when you look back at the names of some ofthose who once played there, such as Barbour himself in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Northeast shooters never to hit 1,000 career points besides McKinley, Srebroski and Strauss include Charles Pindell(1982), Ziz Abdur-Ra'oof (1983), Wayne Fenzel (1984), Uwone Jackson (1985) and Floyd Green (1986).

After tomorrow night, Pleyo will stand alone in Northeast history, and he will have a right to be very proud.

In other county hoop news, just four games remain on the Anne Arundel County boys basketball schedule for streaking Annapolis as the Panthers attempt to extend a school record.

Annapolis (17-1) set a school record for consecutive wins over county opposition at 23 Saturday night with a 73-51 romp over Broadneck (10-7). Rob Wooster continued his relentless offensive assault on county foes by pouring in 29 more points at Broadneck to complete a three-game 95 point week.

Old Mill (11-7) is the last county team to defeat Annapolis, 68-62 on Jan. 15, 1991. The Patriots, 64-52 losers to Annapolis on Jan. 17, visit the Cap City tomorrow night for a 7:30 p.m. contest.

After Old Mill, Annapolis visits Glen Burnie (11-7) this Friday and Meade(13-5) on Feb. 25. before closing out the regular season on Feb. 28 at home vs. Severna Park (12-6).

The prospects of winning all fourare good but not great, because each of those four teams is capable of upsetting the Panthers and snapping their county winning streak.

Old Mill has been in and out after losing its two star guards in Ravon Austin and Erik Sheppard. On a given night, Old Mill is capable, but the Patriots' best shot may come in the 4A Region IV playoffs in March, when Austin (knee injury) and Sheppard (academic probation) are expected back.

Glen Burnie gave Annapolis all it could handle onthe Panthers' Riva Road home court on Feb. 4 before bowing, 76-73. After the game, a relieved Annapolis coach John Brady admitted, "they should have beaten us. They outplayed us until the last three minutesof the game."

The Gophers maintained a six-to-seven-point lead most of the second half taking a 59-52 lead into the final period before being outscored, 24-14, in the waning moments.

Coach Terry Bogle's Gophers pulled off a mild upset at Old Mill Friday night by winning, 73-66, as Vernon Osborne poured in 28 points, hitting 14 of 18 from the floor.

Meade was embarrassed at Annapolis on Friday, Feb. 7,losing by 80-58. But you never count out a Butch Young-coached Mustangs team, especially at home. After that humbling defeat to the Panthers on a night when academic probations hit the 'Stangs hard, Meade bounced back to take its next two games.

Last Tuesday, the 'Stangs defeated Glen Burnie, 59-48, and Friday took Severna Park on the Falcons' home court by 73-66.

Meade has beaten Annapolis the most in the 15 years Brady has been coach of the Panthers. Brady is 27-9 against Meade, including this year's first game victory.

Annapolis has won the last nine in a row over Meade. The last Mustangs victory overthe Panthers came in the Region IV final in 1988, when Meade went toCole Field House and lost in the state semifinals. Meade was 23-2 while Annapolis was 21-3, two of those losses to Meade.

The Annapolis-Meade rivalry was THE county rivalry until the rise of Broadneck under coach Ken Kazmarek the last three seasons. With the Bruins down this year and losing to Annapolis by margins of 21 and 22 points, the Panthers-Mustangs rivalry could be on the rise again.

With Annapolis not losing to any county foe, the next team to beat them might qualify as the "Most Wanted Rival."

That brings us to unpredictable Severna Park. The Falcons had Annapolis on the ropes Tuesday night at home, but went down, 76-69, on a 38-point barrage by Wooster. It was there for the taking, but the Falcons, who have perhaps the best starting five in terms of athleticism and size in the county, couldn't get it done.

Obviously the downer carried over into Friday night, asMeade

came into Severna Park and went home with a seven-point victory.

The Falcons had Annapolis by nine at the half and six going into the final period, but couldn't maintain the lead.

It seems like every season, Mook has problems with the seniors on his team. Instead of being the leaders, they usually end up in his doghouse. Three of his senior starters were sitting on the pines when the Meade game began.

Those who follow Severna Park basketball know that is an old story under Mook. Only the names change each year.

This year's outstanding crew of seniors includes Rich Riffle (6-6), Scott Brown (6-5), Gerald Cager (6-5), Bob Evans (6-2) and Craig Dorsey (6-3). Throw in sophomore Ron Green (6-3) and junior Tim Bowerman (6-2), you've got a talented, experienced and deep team.

Severna Park team last went to Cole Field House in 1981 as a region champion, but it was under Denny Saylor and not Mook. This current edition is every bit as good as that team, but may be lacking in other areas that I will leave to your imagination.

The bottom line is that this Falcon team is abona fide threat to

Annapolis, and what it does in the final regular season game at Annapolis could tell the story of the playoffs.

With Annapolis needing just one more win to clinch the top seed in the 4A Region IV playoffs, you have to concede the home-court advantage through the playoffs to the perennial champs.

The Panthers -- who have been to the region final in all 14 years under Brady and won 11 times -- have lost the final only once at home, to Severna Park in 1981.

The only other Annapolis region championship losses came to Meade in 1983 at Old Mill and in 1988 at Meade.

If Annapolis wins it this year, and does it by taking the last four in regular season to go with a pair of playoff victories, the record winning streak against county foes would hit 29.

Remember when this season started and everybody said that Annapolis -- with seven sophomores and only four seniors -- was ready to be dethroned?

Forget that. Brady and hisassistant coach, Roy Brown, can take a bow. It's just like any otheryear in the Cap City.

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