One bright spot for Anne Arundel Community College's men's basketball team this season has been the performance of sophomore guard Gene Pleyo.
The Northeast graduate is averaging 22 points, six rebounds and four assists, often dazzling opponents with his outside shooting and explosive drives to the basket.
Then came the bad news. Pleyo, who scored 17 of his team's first 26 points against nationally ranked Prince George's earlier this year and finished with 30 in a 81-71 loss, fractured the thumb on his right hand during Saturday's practice. He missed Monday's 100-76 loss to Frederick, and doctors said he would be out two weeks.
"I think it's only going to be a week," said trainer Jim Fontaine earlier this week. "He has a splint on it now and he can dribble. He's chomping at the bit. He wants to play."
And Pleyo did last night, scoring 17 points to lead the Pioneers to a 97-94 overtime victory over Charles.
"It's unbelievable. He's been out five days," said Fontaine after the game. "The swelling has gone down, it's just black and blue. The only thing we were worried about was if he fell. I really expected him to be out another week."
Pleyo had perhaps his best game against Essex last month, shooting 11-for-17, scoring 25 points and totaling 13 rebounds, 10 assists and six steals in a 100-64 win.
Afterward, coach Mike Tummings said, "He did everything. When he wasn't scoring, he was passing. When he wasn't defending, he was scoring. Gene shot the ball well and also defended like there was no tomorrow."
Anne Arundel (7-13) will play host to Catonsville at 7 p.m. Saturday.
On Monday, the Pioneers lost despite having four players score in double figures, led by Mississippi native Sylvester Clark with 16 points.
Anne Arundel put its 11-0 record on the line yesterday afternoon against Cecil Community College. Then comes Saturday's 6 p.m. game at Catonsville Community College, kicking off a difficult stretch that includes Monday's 4 p.m. home contest with Hagerstown.
Catonsville is coached by Art St. Martin, who won six state championships at Brooklyn Park. One of his players is Glen Burnie graduate Melissa Schaffer.
The Pioneers defeated No. 14 Camden on Saturday, 67-60, behind a season-high 16 points from Severna Park graduate Brandee Snyder. The 5-11 small forward, who came into the game averaging around six points, never had led Anne Arundel in scoring.
Then again, she hadn't taken many shots in previous games, though she makes a team-leading 49 percent of them.
"She's been shooting more in the last couple of games," said coach Tom Smith.
Anne Arundel led Camden by 10 points with 10 minutes left, but the visitors went on a 20-4 run to go up by six with just under seven minutes remaining. Smith went to his bench, used a run-and-jump pressure defense and forced five straight turnovers, leading to eight points.
"That put us right back in control," Smith said.
Last Friday, the Pioneers routed Dundalk, 90-24, behind 23 points from Northeast graduate Debbi Dadds and 17 from Severna Park grad Jen Shanahan.
Dadds leads Anne Arundel in scoring at 17.4 points and in rebounding at 15.