Anne Arundel team previews LOCAL SPORTS: GIRLS BASKETBALL PREVIEWS

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Annapolis Panthers

1995-96 record: 19-6

Coach: Dave Griffith (52-22)

Top players: Jackie Edwards, 6-2, Jr., C-F; Kammi Cottrell, 6-1, Jr., F; Kristen Kapusta, 5-7, Sr., G; Emily Dammeyer, 6-3, Jr., C-F; Peekia Green, 5-9, Jr., G; Kerry Miller, 5-6, Jr., G; Dina Brown, 5-3, Sr., G.

Outlook: After last year's excellent season, look for the Panthers to challenge for county and region titles. Despite their youth a year ago, Annapolis was second in the county public school-league only to Class 4A state champion Arundel. This year's team is seasoned, even though it has only three seniors. "We can be real good," said Griffith. "They've played a lot together in the fall and won a tournament in North Carolina last summer. We can go inside or outside with this group." Edwards, who averaged 13.8 points and led the county in rebounding with 14.8 boards a game, will anchor the front line with Cottrell and Dammeyer. Cottrell averaged 12 points and 11 boards while Dammeyer pulled down 10 rebounds an outing. Sharp-shooters Kapusta, Green, Brown and North County-transfer Miller will be on the perimeter.

Archbishop Spalding Cavaliers

1995-96 record: 8-14

Coach: Deb Taylor (25-25)

Top players: Jen Butterwei, 6-0, Jr., F; Kathleen O'Hara, 5-6, Sr., G; Amy Campion, 5-9, So., F; Courtney Dixon, 5-6, So., G; Kate Brady, 5-4, Jr., G; Amy Grace, 5-8, Sr., F-G.

Outlook: Taylor comes to Spalding from the competitive Baltimore Catholic League, having coached the Institute of Notre Dame the last two seasons. "I think that's a big advantage, and I see Spalding as a great school with great potential," said Taylor, a physical therapist in Howard County, where she resides. Taylor said she jumped at the chance to coach at Spalding upon learning that Kristie Lilly was stepping down after two seasons. The new coach likes what she has seen so far, although she is concerned about a lack of height after the 6-foot Butterwei and the team's lack of experience in close, competitive games. "We don't have any selfish players, and team unity should be a plus," said Taylor, who played at the University of Vermont. "We've been spending a lot of time on fundamentals, and I think we can be competitive in the Catholic league, probably a middle-of-the-pack team." The coach will be counting on leadership from seniors O'Hara and Grace.

Arundel Wildcats

1995-96 record: 26-2

Coach: Lee Rogers (119-51)

Top players: Sherice Proctor, 5-4, Jr., G; Lachelle McHenry, 5-8, Sr., F; Megan Rollins, 5-4, So., G; Kaycie Lomax, 5-8, So., F; Shannon Carpenter, 5-7, Sr., F; Shaunte Edmonds, 6-2, So., F; Breanna Kitchen, 5-8, So., F; Erin Wilmer, 5-8, Jr., G; Tiffany Matys, 5-8, Jr., F.

Outlook: Deep, deep and deeper are the Class 4A state champions as they try for the second title in a row. "We know everybody will be gunning for us," said coach Rogers, whose team were 52-3 while advancing to the state final the last two years. "We're not really big, but we should be very quick to the ball." Rogers masterfully mixes and matches his line-ups with no set group together all the time, and the result is a squad that can go nearly 15 deep. Proctor, who averaged 10 points and nearly 3 assists a game last year, McHenry, Rollins, Lomax and Edmonds are a few of the key members with exceptional quickness. Newcomers Lindsey Schisz, a 5-11 sophomore and 5-10 junior Kelly McDonald will add strength in the post on a team of standout players.

Broadneck Bruins

1995-96 record: 13-11

Coach: Bruce Springer (132-59)

Top players: Sarah Brino, 5-11, Sr., F; Stacy Smith, 5-6, Sr., G; Amy Vandehei, 5-11, Sr., F; Susie Conrad, 5-7, Sr., G; Katie Pickett, 5-8, Sr., C; Emily Markham, 5-11, Sr., C; Lauren Peck, 5-9, So., G; Corrine Shuck, 5-7, So., G.

Outlook: Brino, a four-year varsity player, and Vandehei (8.2 rebounds a game) lead eight returnees who either started or got considerable playing time for last year's Class 3A region finalist. "We have a lot of experience with a couple of the girls having been together for three years," said Springer, who last led Broadneck to a state title in 1990. "We've got some quickness, especially at guard with Stacy Smith, and we will take advantage of that by running more and using more pressure defense." Brino, Smith and Vandehei are returning starters, but the team lacks, in Springer's words, "a true center." However, the coach feels confident that Pickett and Markham can do the job.

Chesapeake Cougars

1995-96 record: 5-18

Coach: Jerry McBee (second season)

Top players: Gail Siemer, 6-1, Jr., C; Laura Basil, 5-2, Sr., G; Melanie Tice, 5 -10, Sr., F; Suzanne Bryant, 5-1, Sr., G; Kristen Bland, 5-9, So., F.

Outlook: With four returning starters, including the Cougars' leading scorer and rebounder in Siemer (13.0 points, 10.8 rebounds), McBee is looking for big-time improvement, now that some of his players have had a year to learn his favored motion offense. "Of course, we will be looking to Gail Siemer, and our big problem is we don't have anybody to replace her when she is out of the game." Siemer will get plenty help on the boards from Tice and Bland, who averaged 8.5 and 7.5 boards each respectively. Bland also averaged 10 points a game. Basil, who can take care of the ball, will run the point, and Bryant adds quickness. "Depth is what we lack," said McBee.

Glen Burnie Gophers

1995-96 record: 8-15

Coach: Vicki Plitt (first season)

Top players: Sarah Meredith, 5-10, Jr., C; Amy Hutson, 5-8, Sr., G; Sabrina Ryals, 5-7, So., G; Kara Smith, 5-8, Sr., F; Jennifer Lanham, 5-5, Sr., G; Marianne Ogle, 5-9, Jr., F; Jessica Chase, 5-6, Sr., G.

Outlook: Plitt replaces Patty Dages, who stepped down after five frustrating seasons. The new coach comes in well-prepared, having been tutored under North County's 25-year coach, Sally Entsminger, the last five years. "Sally taught me a lot, especially fundamentals, which we are working hard on with this group," said Plitt. "I told the girls it takes more than one year to build a program." The Gophers have not had a winning season since 1988-89 (16-9) under Colleen Stauffer. Plitt's endeavor might have been easier had it not been for the loss of a pair of 5-11 forwards and top two scorers in Melina Culver and Nevin Caple. Culver averaged 10.4 points and eight boards while Caple averaged 10.1 points. Culver transferred back to Florida, and Caple has moved to a private school. Plitt has two other starters back in Meredith, who averaged 7.5 rebounds, and Ryals, a superb ball handler, who dished out 3.9 assists a game as a freshman.

Meade Mustangs

1995-96 record: 6-19

Coach: Phil Popielski (12-35)

Top players: Dina Eldridge, 5-8, Jr., G; Lindsay Meyer, 5-7, Jr., G; Trina Nicholson, 5-5, Sr., G; Megan Poehlman, 6-4, Jr., C; Shemeka Eldridge, 5-5, Sr., G; Donita Valentine, 5-8, Jr., F; Katie Neatherton, 6-2, So., C; Takisa Wiggins, 5-7, Jr., G.

Outlook: Popielski says his team has an excellent nucleus, led by three-year starting guard Dina Eldridge, returning from a 17-8 team, not a 6-19 club. The Mustangs had to forfeit 11 wins at the end of the season after it was discovered that a reserve player was living out of the Meade area. "As far as I'm concerned, we were 17-8, and the girls played a year ahead of my expectations," said Popielski. "We should be pretty competitive this season. Dina Eldridge, who averaged 11.2 points and 4.3 boards an outing, is a tri-captain with Meyer and Nicholson. Meyer averaged two assists a game and hit 41 percent from the 3-point arc the second half of last season. "Trina is a great student of the game and takes care of the ball," said Popielski, who is excited about his team's depth and ability to carry out their roles. Neatherton averaged more than seven boards and had 82 blocked shots while Valentine is a defensive specialist and Shemeka Eldridge, the region 110 hurdles champ last spring, is very athletic. A pair of sophomore guards, Angela Creek and Tiffany Butler (High Point transfer), add speed.

North County Knights

1995-96 record: 13-10

Coach: Sally Entsminger (287-216)

Top players: Allison Sabo, 5-10, Jr., F; Kysha Naylor, 5-8, Sr., F; Erica Swenson, 5-7, Jr., G; Chantee Williams, 5-10, Sr., F; Amber Baker, 5-11, Sr., F; Takesha Johnson, 5-10, Sr., F; Tiffani Ballard, 5-6, Jr., G; Melissa Smith, 5-7, Jr., G; Stephany Sachs, 5-11, Sr., C-F.

Outlook: With one of the better returning classes she has had in her tenure at North County, Entsminger, who has gone 60-70 in six seasons as the school's only coach, expects her team to be in the middle of the Class 4A pack. A pair of 5-10 players in Williams, who the coach says "can jump through the roof," and Sabo are being counted on to lead the way. Smith, Swenson and Ballard add quickness. "If we play as a team, take care of the basketball and make good choices, we can be pretty good," said Entsminger, who begins her 25th year in the county (first 18 at Andover) and 26th overall (first year at Brookeville, Va.) coaching. It's been 20 years since Entsminger won a state championship (Andover, 1977) and while she's not predicting any such thing, she is hoping her Knights will compete with the likes of Arundel, Annapolis and Meade come playoff time.

Northeast Eagles

1995-96 record: 5-17

Coach: Art Uhlich (second season)

Top players: Cassidy Tivvis, 5-8, So., F; Robin Harrison, 5-10, Sr., C; Toffany Parker, 5-3, So., G; Beth Alexander, 5-6, Jr., G; Michele Gray, 5-5, Jr., G; Tanya Laws, 5-7, Sr., F.

Outlook: The Class 2A Eagles lost their leading scorer and their top rebounder, but two starters are back among six returnees. Sophomore forward Tivvis and 5-10 senior center Harrison are the starters Uhlich is banking on for an improved team. "We're still very young, but we are little bigger, and if we play as a team, we can have a better record," said Uhlich, who coached Meade's JV for two years before moving to Pasadena.

Old Mill Patriots

1995-96 record: 12-10

Coach: Pat Chance (401-142)

Top players: Seneaka Blackwell, 5-6, Jr., G; Melana Befancourt, 5-11, Sr., F; Jessica Baker, 5-4, Sr., G; Stephanie Caplan, 5-9, Sr., F.

Outlook: Chance begins her 25th season in the county (22nd at Old Mill), matching North County's Entsminger in seniority, with a puzzled forecast. "It's hard to say what this team is capable of," said Chance, the county's all-time winningest girls coach and owner of four state titles, the last in 1993. "We scrimmaged Seton (D.C.) the other day, and they beat up on us pretty bad, but then again, Seton beats up on everybody. We're working hard, but we don't have a lot of experience and are keeping a couple freshmen on the varsity." A trio of seniors in Befancourt, Baker and Caplan got a lot of minutes last season, along with the athletic junior Blackwell, but it's a matter of how much help that nucleus gets from the JV grads. It didn't help the Patriot cause when 5-9 forward Sealonda Phillips moved to Florida.

St. Mary's Saints

1995-96 record: 28-4

Coach: Harry Dobson (117-25)

Top players: Nicole Foran, 5-8, Sr., G; Jodi Davidson, 5-9, Jr., G; Tiffany Schummer, 5-10, Jr., F; Emily Lipton, 5-6, So., G; Maria Smear, 5-8, So., G; Terri Daniels, 5-11, So., F; Felicia Holloway, 6-2, So., C.

Outlook: An encore for the Saints, who won last year's Catholic League regular season title with a perfect 14-0 mark before losing in the league's post season tournament? Dobson, who begins his sixth season as head coach, has reservations despite a wealth of outstanding underclassmen. "We're not the team to beat -- Mercy is, they've got everybody back," said Dobson. "Keough is next and then us." With a talented and deep backcourt led by Lipton, who was All-County as a freshman after leading the team in assists (4.7) and averaging eight points and 2.5 steals an outing, Dobson is being rather humble -- or is he? "We lost 30 points to graduation," said Dobson.

Severn School Admirals

1995-96 record: 15-6

Coach: Maurice Jennings (28-18)

Top players: Carrie Staines, 5-8, So., G; Sherrie Cornish, 5-6, Jr., G; Lauren Batte, 5-11, Sr., C; Nikita Wilson, 5-4, Fr., G; Amy Kirkley, 5-7, So., G; Naomi Harrison, 5-8, So., F; Colleen Knapp, 5-5, So., G.

Outlook: After losing nearly 30 points a game in the graduated Kate Graw (16.1 points, 11.0 rebounds) and Monique Jennings (12.5, 4.5 assists), a third straight appearance in the Association of Independent Schools championship game is unlikely. Jennings expects Cornish, whom he calls "our MVP," to step up and lead a talented backcourt that includes the sophomores Staines and Kirkley, and freshman Wilson. "We have to be more team-oriented, and everybody has to understand their role if we are to be successful," said Jennings, who starts his third year as head coach and fifth overall. "Rebounding is a concern because we don't have a lot of height." Severn's tough schedule, which includes non-league games with St. Mary's, Prospect Hall, Good Counsel, Severna Park and McDonogh, should have Jennings' Admirals more than ready for league play.

Severna Park Falcons

1995-96 record: 16-7

Coach: Kevin McGrath (232-110)

Top players: Ashley Evans, 5-9, Sr., F; Danielle Wallace, 5-7, Sr., G; Rachel Zephir, 5-4, Sr., G; Lauren Hancock, 5-7, Sr., G; Rachael Benton, 5-9, Sr., C; Dana Kaegel, 5-7, Sr., G-F; Danielle ,, Kaegel, 5-7, Sr., G-F; Tracey Hicks, 5-4, Sr., G; Missy Collison, 5-10, So., C.

Outlook: An outstanding freshman class has McGrath looking to the future in what he is calling "a transition year." The loss of two All-County seniors to graduation will be tough to offset as McGrath puts the accent on youth. "Our program is going back to small, quick kids, because we don't have any 6-footers," " said McGrath, whose Falcons suffered three of last year's losses, including the region final, to Class 4A state champion Arundel. McGrath has eight returning seniors who were in and out of the line-up last season and could be again this year as the coach interchanges them with four freshmen. Evans, Benton, the Kaegel twins, Hancock and Wallace are the seniors with some height. Zephir and Hicks add quickness.

South River Seahawks

1995-96 record: 5-16

Coach: Dirk Rinehart (first season)

Top players: Elissa Shifflett, 6-2, Sr., C; Katie Wilhelm, 5-9, Jr., F; Becky Preston, 5-8, Sr., F; Adria Lewnes, 5-9, Jr., G; Stephanie Vranas, 5-7, Sr., F; April Dove, 5-2, Jr., G.

Outlook: Rinehart is the Class 2A Seahawks' third coach in three years, and the fourth in five years after Jim Morton spent 14 years at the helm. Rinehart was the Annapolis JV girls coach the last two seasons but hopes he has found a home in Edgewater. He intends to restore continuity to what was a quality program. "I'm looking to build a program, and while I see us growing, it's going to take awhile," said Rinehart, whose coaching career began in the GORC youth leagues. The new Seahawk coach is blending in three sophomores -- Erin Roche, forward Jessica Freeman and center Danielle Mitchell -- with the six main returnees. "I'm concerned about our post players, but we can surround them with real good athletes, and we should be competitive," said the coach.

Southern Bulldogs

1995-96 record: 9-16

Coach: Linda Kilpatrick (312-146)

Top players: Lindsey Lowman, 5-7, Sr., G; Betty Smith, 5-9, Sr., F; Jillian Williams, 5-8, Sr., F; Jessica Downs, 5-10, Jr., C-F; Tameka Graves, 6-0, Jr., C; Tiffany Neal, 5-6, Jr., G; Alicia Groveston, 5-7, So., G.

Outlook: With four returning starters, including the leading scorer in Lowman (14.0), Kilpatrick is not going "to settle for anything less than a region title." The young Bulldogs dropped a three-point decision to North Caroline of the Eastern Shore in the Class 2A East region final last season and intend to go a step farther this year. Seniors Lowman, Smith and Williams, and junior Downs form a seasoned nucleus that could take the Bulldogs a long way, possibly to the 2A final four for the first time since 1989. "We need balanced scoring because teams will key on Lindsey [Lowman], and we can't afford to depend on just one person," said Kilpatrick. Also, the progress of Graves, who is playing only her second year of organized ball, could determine the team's finish. Graves is not only tall (6-0) but is quick and athletic. "Tameka is a raw talent, but if she keeps improving, she could really be something," said Kilpatrick. The coach is hoping Southern's tough schedule, which includes mostly Class 4A schools, will improve not only Graves but the entire team.

Pub Date: 12/04/96

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