Basketball season gets under way Friday when Howard Community College plays host to the first Charm City Invitational.
Howard, coming off a 21-9 season, is led by National Junior College Athletic Association preseason All-America guard Daniel Sancomb (Meade), who averaged 24 points last season and earned state All-JuCo and All-Region XX honors.
Anne Arundel Community College, Dundalk Community College and Essex Community College are the other teams in the tournament that features games at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Friday. The championship game is at 9 p.m. Saturday preceded by a consolation game at 7 p.m.
Coach Wheeler Brown, in his seventh season at HCC, foresees another good year for the Iron Horse Express, which is 126-53 and has averaged 21 wins per season during his tenure. It has 29 straight home wins.
"We have more talent than last season and can go further but we are young," Brown said.
Last season the Express failed to make it to the regional championship game.
Along with Sancomb, Brown will start sophomore Dominique Minor at shooting guard. He's a 6-foot-1, 170-pound transfer from Essex CC where he averaged 17 points.
Javier Michaux (Howard) is a 6-5 freshman who will start at power forward. Michaux was a two-time All-County player at Howard.
Freshman Kevin Jackson (High Point) is the 6-8, 225-pound starting center.
Josh Girten (Wilde Lake) and Tyrone Jones (Meade) are battling for the starting point guard spot. Girten is a returning 6-foot, 170-pound preseason academic All-American. Jones is a 6-2, 185-pound freshman.
HCC has only three returning players -- Kevin Huntley, a 6-foot-5 reserve center, Girten and Sancomb.
Other reserves, all freshmen, include 6-4 James McKenney (Glenelg), 6-5 Keon Sellman (Milford Mill) and 6-2 Brian Sterling (Wilde Lake).
Out-of-towners include Malik Prather, Michaux's 6-6 cousin from Monroe, N.C. Jimelleon Scott is 6-3 and from Middletown, Conn., and Fontez Mile is 6-3 from Rock Island, Ill.
And Erique Betancourt is 6-5 and from Puerto Rico.
Tickets to the Charm City Invitational cost $4 but cover both days.
Two of the county's veteran cross country coaches, Atholton's Earl Lauer and Centennial's Al Dodds, wore bright smiles when they were reunited with their former coach Jim Davis at the Howard County Championships last Thursday.
They both ran for Davis at Montgomery College and Lauer said they both learned most of what they know about coaching from Davis.
Davis, who is retired and living in Wilmington, N.C., was in town to be inducted into Montgomery's athletic Hall of Fame.
He came up a day early just to see his proteges coach in the county championships.
"It's wonderful to see this kind of interest in cross country," Davis said. "Earl was a really tough competitor."
Fairbanks at GCS
Recently hired Glenelg Country School boys basketball coach John Aquila has filled out his coaching staff.
Phil Fairbanks, who played at Oakland Mills, is the junior varsity coach. Fairbanks coached the same level two years ago.
Don Penington (Cardinal Gibbons) and Andy Geuder (Oakland Mills) are Aquila's assistant coaches.