Davis walking and talking tall


A few days before the game, Annapolis girls basketball coach Dave Griffith became somewhat alarmed by the messages being sent back and forth between his star, Shannon Henderson, and St. Mary's Annetta Davis.

Some St. Mary's boys who live in Henderson's Annapolis neighborhood were the messengers, carrying Davis' words to Henderson and Henderson's retorts back to Davis.

"It was about how Annetta said she was going to beat Shannon on the court, things like that," Griffith said.

He asked Henderson if there was a problem between her and Davis.

"No," Henderson said. "Annetta was just sending a psyche message."

That was in December, and St. Mary's won, 75-63, as Davis scored a career-high 35 points to Henderson's 28. Clearly, Davis wanted to prove she was the best inside player in the county.

"She proved it that day," said St. Mary's coach Harry Dobson.

Davis, a 5-foot-10 junior, leads the county in scoring (21.7) and rebounding (16.3). Henderson averages 16.6 points and 15.5 rebounds.

"Shannon and I have played against each other four or five times, and we're always talking trash," Davis said. "She tells her neighborhood friends to tell me she can beat me. That makes me want to show Shannon I'm good enough to play with her."

She has shown a lot of other people, too. When Davis wraps up her high school career next season, she probably will have broken Randall Goldsborough's school record of 1,328 points and be the first in more than 30 years of St. Mary's girls basketball to collect 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds.

After that, Davis might follow the path of another Saint to the Atlantic Coast Conference (Laura Coakley played at Wake Forest for a little more than two seasons) or go to the Big East ("I love UConn," she said).

"She's a natural talent," Dobson said. "She can take the team -- four girls on her back -- and carry it."

St. Mary's point guard Bridget Smith first met Davis when both played for Chesapeake Bay Hurricanes teams in an AAU tournament in New Orleans in the summer of 1991.

"She was on the 13-and-under team and outshined everyone on the court," Smith said. "She was quick, aggressive, knew where she should be and wanted the ball."

An Army brat who has lived in Missouri, North Carolina, Kentucky and Germany, Davis didn't begin playing basketball until the summer before she entered eighth grade in 1989. She joined a Fort Meade recreation team, honing her skills in pickup games with boys in her Glen Burnie neighborhood.

"When I first saw Annetta, she had a lot of potential," Dobson said. "She could already jump, and she could rebound."

With Dobson's blessing, Saints junior varsity coach Chuck Miller urged Davis to attend St. Mary's when they were in New Orleans for the AAU tournament.

"Bridget told me then how good St. Mary's was going to be in the next five years," said Davis, noting that the Saints are No. 3 now. A B student today, she also was drawn by the school's academic reputation.

After leading the junior varsity in scoring, rebounding and blocks as a freshman, Davis started last season as a varsity reserve, the sixth man.

"She came in and gave us instant offense," Dobson said. "After she acclimated to varsity play, her defense improved and she stopped fouling so much."

Davis made first-team All-County and second-team All-Metro and led the 24-6 Saints in points (14.5) and rebounding (13).

"She's 5-10 but plays 6-1 or 6-2," Dobson said. "She might be able to dunk before she leaves. And she can palm a basketball."

Dobson smiled and then thought of another way to describe Davis.

"Some people have it and others don't," he said. "Annetta has it."

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