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Carter, Scorpions are expected to make the grade this season Gets classwork in order, returns to Oakland Mills; HIGH SCHOOL BOYS BASKETBALL PREVIEW

In a season that will be dominated by impact players who are being recruited by Division I colleges in unprecedented numbers, junior Fardan Carter of Oakland Mills may make the most important impact.

Every time his basketball skills help the Scorpions to victory he'll be sending a message that performance in the classroom is more important than performance on the court.

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He learned that the hard way last season. Even though he was eligible under school guidelines, his mother pulled him off the team in early February last season -- right in the middle of a heated championship race -- because his grades had fallen.

He was averaging 12 points, five rebounds and three assists at the time, and his sudden absence created a void among his teammates.

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It was a much talked about and sometimes criticized move because of its timing.

But for Carter, who admits it was painful not to play, the move has paid significant personal dividends and was undoubtedly the correct one.

He has turned his academic life around and never expects to lapse.

"It made me aware of how important grades are, and that sports aren't everything," Carter said. "My grades had gone down real low because I was just doing enough to pass. I wasn't putting forth the effort, and my mom wanted me to do my best because later on in life you're not going to be able to play sports and will need something to fall back on. I have better work habits now, and am into keeping my grades up."

Carter has averaged at least a 2.5 GPA for his last three quarters, a turnaround that has his mother, Sharron Smith, pleased.

"I'm happy he's bounced back and matured," Smith said. "It paid off."

The team also learned that it could survive without one of its best players. It failed to win the county championship, losing out by a game to Atholton, but did manage to make it to the state finals where it lost to Dunbar.

The Scorpions (22-4) will again be one of the teams to beat this season, because they return not only Carter but also Player of the Year Irving Conwell and point guard Quan Davis. Conwell is being recruited by Rutgers, Dayton, Towson State and Delaware.

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Those are the only three returnees, however.

"We have a young team with maybe more talent than last year, but we haven't worked together much yet," Carter said. "Quan, Irving and I were late coming out because we all played football. We're just starting to click."

One thing Carter thinks Oakland Mills won't have to worry about this season -- in addition to his leaving the team for poor grades -- is depth.

"We won't have to worry about getting into foul trouble like last season," Carter said. "We're that deep."

One of the new Oakland Mills players that fans will be eagerly waiting to watch is Casey Canada, a 6-foot-3 transfer from Arlington Baptist.

"He's doing real well in the post," Carter said.

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Carter, who is capable of a big scoring night, as evidenced by his 27 points against Centennial, 23 against South Carroll and 21 against Thomas Johnson last season, thinks he will have to score a little more to make up for the loss of 22.8 points per game from Mike Hill's, who has graduated.

"They didn't really need me to score much last season, but when they did I stepped up," he said. "I usually run track in the summer, but because of a bad hamstring I played nothing but basketball, and I have a much better shot now."

Atholton (21-2), led by Tyrone Allmond and Nat Watkins, should again be in the thick of the championship race with the Scorpions.

"They are a team with real good fundamentals, that runs picks on you and just do all the little things right," Carter said.

Also expected to excel this season is Wilde Lake (12-11), which will be led by 6-foot-8, 250-pound Carl Jackson. He has already signed for a full scholarship to Penn State.

A team expected to make a stunning turnaround is Hammond (3-10). The Bears have an 18-game losing streak, but look as solid as any team in the league.

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One of the key factors for the Bears will be another player who has overcome academic problems.

Phil Mackey, a 6-foot-5 senior center, missed last season due to poor grades. He is expected to be an impact player.

The Bears will also be helped by point guard Tim Spruill's quickness. Spruill sat out the first part of last season following a grueling football season.

Another impact player and a Division I recruit to watch will be Glenelg Country School's 6-foot-5 Bernie Dennison. He scored 41 points and had 38 rebounds in the Dragon's opening day win over Barrie Prep last week.

"He's a definite Division I player," said new Dragons coach John Aquila. "Colgate, Towson and Northeastern are interested and he has an appointment to West Point."

Among other county public school teams, Centennial has a solid lineup led by 6-4 center Matt Laycock, who averaged 12 points and seven rebounds.

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Howard has forward Mike Green and an excellent returning point guard in sophomore Chris Smith.

Mount Hebron and Glenelg are rebuilding following heavy losses due to graduations. The Vikings have a new coach, Scott Conroy, who replaces Scott Robinson.

Team by team outlook

Atholton Raiders

1994-95 record: 21-2 overall, 13-1 league, county champs. Coach: Jim Albert.

Top Players: Tyrone Allmond, 5-11, Sr., G; Nat Watkins, 6-3, Sr., F; Matt Hahn, 5-11, Sr., G; Marc Horner, 6-3, Sr., F; Jamar Stafford, 6-0, Jr., G; Keith Jefferson, 5-10, Jr., G; John Harvey, 6-1, Jr., F; Bryan Worsley, 6-2, Jr., F.

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Outlook: The Raiders won their second straight county title but graduated three starters. Starters Allmond and Watkins are back. They'll want to atone for last season's opening-round playoff loss to Glenelg. Their only other loss was to Oakland Mills. Allmond will be one of the league's best players. He was second-team All-County last year when he averaged 11 points and four assists. Watkins averaged nine points and five rebounds. Hahn, an intelligent player, and Horner, who has tremendous athleticism, both saw a lot of playing time last season. Stafford also saw some time. "Horner has made great strides and shows lots of potential," Albert said. "This is one of the hardest-working groups I've ever coached, and unselfish. We may not have as much talent as last year, but we could be as good a team."

Chapelgate Christian Flames

1994-95 record: 5-15. Coach: Gary Berwager.

Top players: Tim Corbin, 6-0, Sr., F; Dan Bird, 6-0, Sr., F; Josh Barlow, 6- 1, Jr., G; Chris Davidson, 5-11, Fr., G; Steve Hefter, 5-9, Sr., G; Richard Price, 5-9, So., G.

Outlook: The Flames return their entire team and have added a transfer from Owings Mills. Last year they were unusually young and started a junior, a sophomore, two freshmen and an eighth-grader. With a year of experience, Berwager expects the record to improve. It will also help that they have moved to a little less competitive league made up mainly of Washington schools. Corbin averaged 12 points and 13 rebounds last season. Barlow led in assists with six per game. Davidson averaged 12 points even though he was in eighth grade. Hefter is the transfer and offers defensive quickness.

Centennial Eagles

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1994-95 record: 8-13 overall, 2-12 league. Coach: Jim Hill.

Top players: Scott Bross, 5-11, Jr., G; Matt Laycock, 6-4, Jr., C; Denny Chapman, 6-3, Jr., F; Brian Otten, 6-0, Jr., G/F; George Mitroka, 6-0, Sr., F; Andy McShane,6-3, So., F; Chip Harrison, 5-9, G; Aaron Williams, 5-9, Jr., G.

Outlook: Last season was the first time in six years that the Eagles failed to make playoffs. They graduated seven seniors, but will start four juniors who played a lot last season, so that experience should pay off in an improved team. Laycock has the potential to be a standout player and scorer, but the rest of the starters won't be afraid to shoot, especially Chapman, who averaged eight points. Bross is a good ball hander who'll play the point with Harrison and Williams also able to handle the ball well. "We'll be a scrappy, improved team, not huge, that will be competitive with most teams," Hill said.

Glenelg Country School Dragons

1994-95 record: 17-2. Coach: John Aquila.

Top players: Bernie Dennison, 6-5, Sr., C; Henry Johnson, 5-10, Sr., G; Eric Greenberg, 5-10, So., G; Pat

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Dennison, 6-3, So., F; Nick Woodford, 6-2, So., F; Jason Casely-Hayford, 6-1, Jr., F.

Outlook: The Dragons have a new coach, new league and the best player the school has ever had. Bernie Dennison scored 41 points and had 38 rebounds in Glenelg's opening 91-61 win against Barrie Prep. 'He's definitely the best player the school has had," said Aquila, who was an assistant coach at Howard last season. Glenelg has plenty of scoring. Greenberg scored 20 in the opener and Pat Dennison, Bernie's brother, scored 14. But the team lacks depth. The Dragons hope to fare well in the MIAA C Division after playing an independent schedule last season.

Glenelg Gladiators

1994-95 record: 14-11 overall, 5-9 league. Coach: Klaude Krannebitter.

Top players: Tony Marchegiano, 5-8, Sr., G; Robin Davis, 6-2, Sr., F; Mike Stup, 6-1, Sr., G; Scott Kotarba, 5-11, Sr., G; Tim Kelly, 6-5, Sr., C; Steve Dulaney, 6-0, Sr., G; Ben Gugliotta, 6-1, Sr., F; Nick Barnes, 6-5, Fr., C.

Outlook: The Gladiators return two starters, Davis and Gugliotta, from a team that peaked at the end of last season and lost the regional championship game to Oakland Mills in double overtime. Davis is a strong rebounder who has played well in scrimmages. Marchegiano will play point guard. He shoots and runs the team well. Kotarba and Shup are shooters. Dulaney is a defensive-oriented guard who missed last season with sore knees. Barnes is a mobile shot-blocker who can shoot from 18 feet. The Gladiators are inexperienced, with four first-year players, but quick and deeper than last season. "We'll play more up-tempo than last year," Krannebitter said.

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Hammond Bears

1994-95 record: 3-19 overall, 0-14 league. Coach: Mike Mongelli.

Top players: Phil Mackey, 6-5, Sr., C; Tim Spruill, 5-10, Sr., G; Mike Bright, 5-10, Sr., G; Carl Friedheim, 6-5, Sr., F; Tom Dispenza, 5-11, Sr., G; Shan Showers, 6-0, Sr., G; Tom Salkeld, 6-2, Sr., F; James Gregory, 6-2, Sr., F.

Outlook: The first matter of business for the Bears will be to break their 18-game losing streak. With this team, that shouldn't take long. Mackey missed last season but is one of the most talented players in the league, and if he plays well he could carry the Bears a long way. Spruill is an unusually quick point guard. Friedheim averaged eight points and five rebounds. "If we play defense we'll be in the hunt," Mongelli said. "If we don't play defense we could lose to anybody. We'll have a different look this season and operate on a full-tilt style. A lot of kids can score. We'll be enjoyable to watch."

Howard Lions

1994-95 record: 10-14 overall, 6-8 league. Coach: Kevin Broadus.

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Top players: Chris Smith, 5-8, So., G; Mike Green, 6-3, Sr., F; James Dulaney, 5-9, Sr., G; Colin Izzard, 6-3, Jr., C; William Richardson, 5-10, Sr., G.

Outlook: The Lions return two starters, Smith and Green, and a total of five players from last season's team. Five players are up from junior varsity. They have an outstanding point guard in Smith. Green averaged eight points and is expected to improve. Izzard is an imposing rebounder. Broadus lost valued assistant coach John Aquila to Glenelg Country School, but added coaches Jerome Jefferson and LeVan Hutchinson. "We'll be more competitive but are still looking at the middle of the pack," Broadus said. "It depends on how we jell and whether or not we get the rebounding, because we plan to play up-tempo."

Mount Hebron Vikings

1994-95 record: 15-8 overall, 10-4 league. Coach: Scott Conroy.

Top players: Russell Drake, 6-2, Sr., G; Brad Bode, 6-5, Sr., C; Mark Jordan, 6-2, Sr., F; John Smith, 6-3, Jr., F; Jeff Haddaway, 6-3, Sr., G; Mike Stromberg, 5-11, Jr., G.

Outlook: The Vikings finished third in the county but fell apart at the end of last season, losing their final four games including the first playoff game. They may be hard-pressed to duplicate last season's success, however. Highly touted center Patrick Ngongba transferred to Calvert Hall. Coach Scott Robinson, one of the league's most successful coaches, is now an assistant at Johns Hopkins. He was replaced by Scott Conroy who is in his first head coaching position after a two-year stint as Western Maryland College assistant coach and two years as an assistant at Oakland Mills. Drake is the only returning starter. He can play point guard or shooting guard. Jordan is the team's best rebounder. "We're working hard on building strong team chemistry and are looking forward to having a winning season," Conroy said.

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Oakland Mills Scorpions

1994-95 record: 22-4 overall, 12-2 league. Coach: Dave Appleby.

Top players: Irving Conwell, 6-2, Sr., G; Fardan Carter, 5-10, Jr., G; Quan Davis, 5-6, Jr., G; Casey Canada, 6-4, Sr., C; Tony Sims, 6-4, Jr.,F/C; Duaine Harding, 6-4, Jr., C; Jacob Coleman, 6-4, Sr., F.

Outlook: Last season the Scorpions rebounded from two straight losing seasons to record one of their best records. They've graduated all-time leading scorer Mike Hill's 22.8 points and 8.9 rebounds, but have the makings of another fine team. Three key players are back, led by Conwell, The Sun's Howard County Player of the Year, who averaged 20.4 points, 7.7 rebounds, five assists and four steals per game. The 6-foot-2 small forward, who sank 42 three-point shots, led his team to the state finals where it lost to Dunbar. Starting point guard Davis and guard Carter, a starter for part of the season, are back. Much will depend upon how five seniors who haven't played before perform, as well as upon Arlington Baptist transfer Canada, a post player. "We're fairly talented, but overall we're inexperienced," Appleby said.

Wilde Lake Wildecats

1994-95 record: 12-11 overall, 8-6 league. Coach: Paul Ellis.

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Top players: Carl Jackson, 6-8, Sr., C; Jeff Johnson, 6-2, Sr., F; Corey Butler, 5-10, So., G; Sean Jefferson, 5-9, Sr., G; Chris Taliano, 6-1, Jr., F; Eric McDuffie, 5-8, Sr., G; Don Wallace, 6-1, Sr., C; Barrett Wragg, 5-10, Jr., G; Jeremy Young, 6-1, Sr., F.

Outlook: At 6-8, 250, center Jackson should be the cornerstone of this team. He's already signed with Penn State. He led the league in rebounding last season with 292 in 23 games for a 12.6 average. He also led in blocked shots with 126 for a 5.4 average. Jackson scored 309 points, a 13.4 average. And he shot 46 percent from the floor. "He should be the premier player in the county," said Ellis. "He's matured a lot. He's a man now." Beyond Jackson, the Wildecats will be quick and should shoot a little better than last season. Sophomore newcomer Corey Butler shows lots of promise. He's the brother of Terrance Butler, an outstanding point guard for Wilde Lake two seasons ago. The Wildecats won regional titles in 1991 and 1994 and are hoping for another one this season. "We should be competitive with everyone," Ellis said.

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Preseason Top 20

No. Team, W-L, Last Rank, Skinny

1. Southern-Balto., 0-0, 8, Four starters return for USA Today and Street & Smith's Top 25 team

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2. St. Frances, 2-0, 3, Catholic League Player of the Year Mark Karcher leads four returnees

3. Calvert Hall, 2-0, 5, Set to challenge St. Frances with Pat Ngongba and Juan Dixon

4. Southwestern, 0-0, 18, Donta Lloyd and Reggie Johnson form area's top backcourt

5. Dunbar, 0-0, 2, All-Everything Tommy Polley will have to step up for young Poets

6. Lake Clifton, 0-0, 1, Defending state 4A champs lost top six players, but still are talented

7. Gibbons, 2-0, nr, Longtime assistant Bryan Moorhouse set to continue winning tradition

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8. Randallstown, 0-0, 4, Have a shot at repeating as state 3A champs with impressive front line

9. Mount St. Joseph, 0-0, nr, May be the sleeper in the Catholic League with Daniel Whye

10. Broadneck, 0-0, 7, Only team capable of stopping Dunbar from reaching College Park

11. Walbrook, 0-0, 9, Loss of top two scorers shouldn't slow down the Warriors too much

12. Annapolis, 0-0, 15, Ready and hungry to get back to College Park after five-year absence

13. Oakland Mills, 0-0, 11, Irving Conwell will attempt to get Scorpions back to state 2A title game

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14. C. M. Wright, 0-0, 14, The Mustangs look to erase last season's playoff disappointment

15. Severn, 1-1, 10, Dennard Melton ready to take Severn back to the top of MIAA B Conf.

16. Arundel, 0-0, 6, Looking for a return trip to Cole Field House

17. Woodlawn, 0-0, nr, Ready to challenge Randallstown for supremacy in Balto. County

18. Old Mill, 0-0, nr, Could be best team in Anne Arundel County

once healthy

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19. Loyola, 0-0, nr, Another contender in toughest Catholic League race in years

20. Northern, 0-0, nr, Former Dunbar assistant Paul Holmes returns four starters

Note: Teams selected by The Sun's sports staff. Last rank denotes ranking at end of 1994-1995 season.


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