COACH OF THE YEAR
* Jim Carnes, South Carroll -- Once again this season, Carnes found himself coaching a team that wasn't blessed with an abundance of talent. But he found a way to coax a 9-13 record out of the Cavaliers and win the county championship with a 6-0 mark. The 9-13 overall record also turned out to be tops in the county when fast-starting Francis Scott Key faded badly to finish at 8-12. Carnes was aiming at least for a .500 record after finishing 10-10 last year. That became difficult when standout guard Greg Mihalko suffered a neck injury in the final football RTC game of the season and didn't fully recover until more than halfway through the season. Once Mihalko got healthy and was moved from point guard to shooting guard, the Cavaliers were a much stronger team. The decision by Carnes to move Mihalko to the shooting guard spot enabled Mihalko to concentrate more on shooting three-pointers and less on getting the ball up the floor. The two South Carroll wins over 4A Westminster lifted Carnes to an 8-8 record against the Owls and Dave Byers in the last 16 meetings between the two schools.
THE FIRST TEAM AT A GLANCE
* Topher Casserly, Francis Scott Key, Sr., F -- The leading scorer in the county with 18.5 points a game, Casserly played under a lot of pressure most of the season as the Eagles failed to live up to expectations as the best team in the county. When Key floundered, going 4-14 after a 4-0 start, Casserly seemed to take some of the losses personally and tried to do too much on the court. Casserly at times was tentative on offense and had no natural flow. But he was still good enough to shoot 48 percent from the field and average eight rebounds with 18.5 points. Those stats were good enough to put Casserly in a tight battle with South Carroll's Matt McGrane for Player of the Year honors, with Casserly finishing a close second. This is the second straight first-team All-Carroll berth earned by Casserly, one of the top players in Francis Scott Key history.
* Steve Mays, Westminster, Sr., G -- Sometimes a player has enough drive and desire to excel without scoring many points, handing out a lot of assists or getting rebounds. Steve Mays is one of those rare players. In a less-than inspiring 6-16 season for the Owls, Mays never stopped hustling and drew praise from his coach, Dave Byers. "When Steve Mays came off the floor after a game, I never doubted that he had left all he had on the court. He ran all night long. His shirt was wringing wet and he was completely exhausted. You just don't see kids do that a lot when you're losing a lot of games." Mays didn't have a lot of skills to play at the 4A level but no one ever doubted his willingness to go on the floor for a ball or to play all-out defense against the opponent's top player.
* Greg Mihalko, South Carroll, Sr., G -- When Mihalko started hitting the threes in the second half of the season, giving the Cavaliers some outside punch to go with the inside game of Matt McGrane, the Cavaliers were on their way to the county championship with a 6-0 record. Mihalko was especially superb in a 57-52 victory over Westminster on Feb. 10 that virtually wrapped up the county title. He scored 23 points, including some clutch three-pointers to hold off the Owls. Mihalko came back four nights later to score 15 against Liberty when the Cavaliers officially won the county championship. He wound up the season with a 10.3 scoring average, 2.8 assists a game and 1.7 steals. His season-high was 24 points against Damascus. All those stats would have been much higher if Mihalko had been healthy in the first half of the season, when he was recovering from a neck injury suffered in the final minutes of the last football game of the season.
* Steve Wright, Francis Scott Key, Sr., F -- A good leaper, Wright could climb over a lot of people for rebounds and follow shots. That was the reason he averaged 14 points and 7.5 rebounds for the Eagles. His main role for the team was to play inside and draw a lot of attention to him when he got the ball down low. If Wright was double-teamed, he was supposed to kick the ball outside to Topher Casserly or Mike Crawmer for jumpers. "When Steve did that, we were a good team," said Key coach Jeff Cook. "We needed Steve on his game to be successful. It seemed like if Steve had a bad game, we had a bad game." Wright was a starter for four years for the Eagles and had hoped this season would be one for everybody at Key to remember. It didn't happen as the team finished 8-14 and didn't make the playoffs. Wright also was the state 1A high-jump champion as a junior.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: MATT McGRANE
Matt McGrane, a vastly improved senior center, carried South Carroll the first half of the season and continued to come on strong down the stretch, leading the Cavaliers to the county title while averaging 18.4 points and 8.8 rebounds a game.
He shot 54.2 percent from the field, blocked 46 shots and had 26 steals. McGrane finished second in the county in scoring to Francis Scott Key's Topher Casserly (18.5). Even though the Cavaliers were not able to beat top teams such as Thomas Johnson and Frederick, McGrane turned in good efforts against those schools. He was especially tough in helping the Cavs go 6-0 against county foes Westminster, Liberty and North Carroll, as South Carroll ended Westminster's two-year reign.
The pressure was on McGrane from the start to produce at center because of Tom Luster's decision not to return to the team this season. Luster was the starting center last season. McGrane was not one of the preseason favorites to win Player of the Year honors, but he certainly performed well enough to get the top award. The Baltimore Sun 1994-95 All-Carroll County boys basketball teams were selected by Bill Free after consultation with staff writers and area coaches.