Although jarred by the recent death of Celtics basketball star and Dunbar graduate Reggie Lewis, Cecil-Kirk's under-19 basketball squad managed a third-place finish in last week's Amateur Athletic Union Junior Olympics in Cocoa Beach, Fla.
Coach Anthony Lewis said the team was not only jarred by Lewis' death, but it discovered on short notice it would be without another Dunbar graduate, 6-foot-7, All-American swingman Keith Booth, The Baltimore Sun's 1992-93 All-Metro Player of the Year.
"Because of that, the only size we had was [Lake Clifton's 6-7 Terrance] Payne and [Dunbar's 6-7 Cornell] Ward," said Lewis, adding that the University of Maryland-bound Booth had committed to a summer school course at the college.
The team posted a 6-2 record in the tournament behind All-Metro Shawnta Rogers, a 5-5 Lake Clifton junior who earned AAU All-America honors for averaging 17 points, five assists and two rebounds.
"The kids really had a difficult time with Reggie's passing," Lewis said. "But in spite of everything, I think they really pulled together and came through."
Cecil-Kirk reached the final four after Tuesday's 96-72 victory over Wisconsin, but then dropped its semifinal, 99-94, to Tennessee, the eventual runner-up to North Carolina's Charlotte Royals. The team was awarded third place after a forfeit win over Georgia.
"At first, we had a hard time focusing, thinking about Reggie," said All-Metro guard Kevin Norris, a 5-8 graduate of Lake Clifton. "But after a while, we just thought about our coach. He was taking it [the death] pretty hard, so we gave it that extra push for him."
Ronald Byrd, a 6-1 swingman from Lake Clifton, averaged 10 points, four rebounds, five assists and three steals.
Getting her kicks
She's long ago given up on a track career, and she's got a bit of a limp, but Joppatowne graduate Thori Staples is still on the move.
This summer, the 19-year-old North Carolina State sophomore has traveled with the Women's National soccer team to competitions in Greece, Canada, Atlanta, Detroit, New York, Princeton, N.J., and Columbus, Ohio.
And like her two most recent trips to the July 20-Aug. 1 Olympic Festival in San Antonio, and the Aug. 4-8 qualifier for the 1995 Women's World Cup, most of her excursions have been rewarding.
Less than 24 hours after anchoring her squad to a silver medalist finish to China, 2-1, in the July 3-17 World University Games in Ontario, Staples -- a marking defender -- was on her way to San Antonio. There, she helped the East Team to an overtime, runner-up finish against the West.
She returned yesterday from the qualifier in Hyde Park, N.Y., where the U.S. shut out New Zealand, Trinidad-Tobago and Canada by a combined 13-0.
All this on a brittle right knee, which Staples injured while playing with the seven-time State Cup champion Columbia Crusaders in the July 1-3 United States Youth Soccer Association Regionals.
"She's right-footed, so it bothered her a lot," said Staples' mother, Sonda. "But she managed to play through it most of the time."
A happy ending
With a five-medal performance, a fatigued Ed Waters' track club, sponsored by the city's bureau of recreation, returned from last week's AAU Junior Olympics in Knoxville, Tenn.
"Everybody's pretty tired, but the kids are also pretty happy," said assistant coach Ron Neal, whose club completed its summer season in the 4,562-person event and won one gold medal, two silvers and two bronze. "They're already planning for next year."
Competing in the 15-16 age group, the 1,600-meter relay team of Derrick Smith, Garfield Thompson, James Carter and Brian Harold were first in 3 minutes, 20.01 seconds. This week's 1,600 time was slower than last week's runner-up effort (3:19.6) in the United States Track and Field Junior Nationals in Baton Rouge, La.
And after placing first in last week's USTF Junior Nationals, the 3,200-meter relay combination of Smith-Thompson-Harold-Carter were runners-up. Smith, a winner of 400-meter -- (48.6 seconds) two weeks ago in the East Coast Invitational, also teamed with Royston Little, Carter and Jevon Norris for second place in the 400 relay.
Competing in the 15-16 category was Woodlawn's All-Metro state champ and junior Sheraie Darby, who placed third in the 400 hurdles. Also placing third, but in the 400 relay of the 11-12 category for boys, were Jedda Blue-El, Marshall Davis, Marcus Loller and Dax Johnson.
Also, Little placed fourth in the 200 -- and Carter fifth in the 400, with fifth-place finishes by the 13-14 boys in the 400 relay (Tim Coles, Tyrell Whitaker, Jonathan Thomas and Isac Talley), and the 11-12 boys in the 1,600 (Davis, Jerard Mercer, Loller, Johnson).