Tip-off tip: Southern-Annapolis

Weather permitting, of course, it should be quite a show at Southern-Anne Arundel tonight when 10th-ranked Annapolis (10-2) comes calling.

It's a matchup of two of Anne Arundel County's top boys basketball teams.


Annapolis is the front-runner in the Class 4A East Region, and eighth-ranked Southern (8-2) is the county's best in the Class 2A East Region.

The Bulldogs are battling for the top seed in their region with second-ranked Dunbar of Baltimore (10-1) and South River (8-2). Southern beat No. 16 South River (8-2) on Wednesday night, 88-76.


Class 3A Broadneck (9-1) leads its East Region and is sandwiched between Southern and Annapolis in The Baltimore Sun rankings at No. 9.

Few will argue that Annapolis, Southern and Broadneck are the county's top three teams at this date. The rankings and their records reflect that.

Annapolis and Southern are similar in style. Both love to run and maintain a hectic, run-and-gun tempo that most fans love.

The visiting Panthers average 89.3 points while giving up 70.5. Southern compares favorably, scoring 86.2 points a clip and yielding 68.9.

Annapolis has hit the 100-point mark four times with a high of 108; Southern has reached the century mark twice with a high of 105.

The big difference in the two teams appears to be depth, where Annapolis plays 10 to 11 men while Southern relies on the brilliant individual play of blue-chipper Chatney Howard and six to seven other players.

Southern has the county's leading scorer and perhaps the county's top player in Howard, who is averaging 28.0 points, including his 30Wednesday against South River.

Eddie Paddy is the only other Bulldog averaging in double digits with 17.1 points a game.


Annapolis doesn't have anyone averaging 28 points but does have five players averaging 10 or more a game and a sixth not far behind.

Ronnie Johnson leads the Panthers with 16.1 points a game, followed by Kelsey Watkins (12.1), Rodney "Shaq" Watts (11.4), Rico Lee (10.2), and Juan "J. J." Johnson (10.0).

After scoring 16 points in Wednesday's romp over Severna Park, Lewis Day is hovering just under 10 points a game for the Panthers.

Get to the game early (game time is 7:15 p.m.) because this will be the only meeting this season between these two outstanding teams and the gym is sure to fill up fast.

Broadneck, a 63-43 winner over Northeast (3-9) Wednesday, is scheduled to play host to North County (5-7) at 7:30 tonight and visit No. 15 Glen Burnie (9-2) at 7 p.m. tomorrow. The Gophers defeated North County, 72-58, Wednesday.

Most county basketball teams are scheduled to play three games next week but with the bad weather forecast, who knows?


Southern coach Tom Albright was proudly sporting a red and blue necktie with a Bulldog on it at the South River game Wednesday.

"Ted's wife gave it to me for my birthday," Albright said.

Ted Gott is Albright's longtime assistant. Albright celebrated his 58th birthday on Jan. 15.

It's hard to believe that Albright is 58 and in his 29th season as a head coach.

The man has changed little over the past 10 years and is a throwback to when coaches stayed so long in one place because they love their school and community.

In his computer room at Southern, Albright has his walls filled with inspirational sayings and one fits his contribution well:


"An eagerness to sacrifice personal interests or glory for the welfare of all is school spirit."

Forget an unprecedented four state titles and 421 wins in county boys basketball; Albright is the spirit of Southern.

No question that South River juniors Russell Tongue (19.8 points average) and Corey Davis (19.3 points) are two of the top players in the county, but there is a hard-nosed player on that team who also has a lot to do with its 8-2 success.

Seahawks senior Brian Ulrich is one of those players who works hard every second of the game, does a lot of the little things and intangibles and gets little attention.

Ulrich was diving and leaping all over the floor Wednesday at Southern to complement Tongue and Davis, who had 21 points each.

"Brian has worked hard to make himself a good player and has done a great job for us despite the fact he is legally blind in one eye," said coach Kenny Dunn.


Ulrich, who is just under 6 feet, had 10 points, 10 rebounds and a steal in the Seahawks' 12-point loss at Southern.

He's a good, consistent player who all high school coaches love because his greatness is in his effort.